To quoth critics on 'The Raven' movie: Tell-tale flop

John Cusack in 'The Raven'
("The Raven")

Baltimore has a special interest in the new John Cusack movie "The Raven" as it tells the story of a man the city claims as its own: Edgar Allan Poe.

(If they named the football team after his poem, he's got to be something, right?)

The film depicts a 19th century Baltimore, but was filmed, much to the city's dismay, in Europe, where it just opened. It's due to play here next month, so as a public service, we thought we could tell you what reviewers across the pond thought.

And, let's just say that while they didn't quite give it a "nevermore," Cusack (whose performance rated higher in most reviews than the movie as a whole) might be looking fondly by comparison at his reviews in "Hot Tub Time Machine."

The Guardian: 3 out of 5 stars. "John Cusack is wittily cast as the washed-up Poe. .... There's a bit of Saw and Se7en here, as well as Vincent Price in Theatre of Blood; Stephen King's Misery and Updike's Bech Noir spring to mind, and it's a nice touch to give Baltimore a serial killer over a century before Dr Hannibal Lecter was employed by the Johns Hopkins Medical Centre in that city. It runs out of steam in the final 10 minutes, but there's some gruesome drama and Cusack is on decent form."

Scottish Daily Record: "MYSTERY writer Edgar Allan Poe terrified readers with tales of drawn-out torture. A swinging scythe, a murderer driven insane by his victim's heartbeat, fear of being buried alive. None of these, however, hold a candle to the agony of watching The Raven, a murder mystery uninspired by the novelist's last days."

West Sussex County Times. 2 out of 5 stars. "Well, for a start this movie doesn't really know what it wants to be - a horror movie, physcological thriller, romance. Instead we get a mix of everything so the pace of the film is inconsistent."

The Independent: "Poe, played by Cusack as a manic proto-hipster (with a snazzy goatee, rather than the real Poe's merely functional 'tache). His voice an impassioned rasp, his face usually fixed in wild-eyed bafflement, Cusack comes on like a true melodrama barnstormer – especially when ranting at all comers about his overlooked genius."

The Yorker: "Edgar Alan Poe was a brilliantly imaginative author who created incredibly tense dark tales of intelligence and depth, making the film's lack of all these qualities all the more noticeable."



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