In Society of Poetry’s two time tradition of going to see movies that reflect poets (hey, these don’t happen often), we attended The Raven premier this week to give you the scoop .
Edgar Allan Poe, John Cusack: two names that separately elicit enough teenage palpitations, merged together on the screen to fashion a new Edgar with a hint of classic Cusack pop angst. The writer of the macabre behaves differently than the brooding, soused, pale lover that we imagine wrote “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Cusack gives the role a modern spin, as a misunderstood and crabby poet trying to get his work noticed at a time dominated by the hackneyed likes of Longfellow (know the feeling?).
The older Poe, post-Raven fame, does not come off as cheesy although the premise of Poe investigating copy-cat murders borders on campy. The movie feels surprisingly smart at times, especially to any of those Poe fans who want to catch short story references before they spell them out. Props to those who can name all the poems quoted in the film.
So the movie is about Poe saving his wife-to-be, Emily, who is targeted by a serial killer emulating the outcomes of Poe’s horrors. The plot doesn’t go much farther than that and the “who-done-it” aspect of it is easy to solve. After the first 15 minutes, you can see the plot unravel before you and any person well-read in Poe could have foreseen the plights to come, leaving out the surprise factor.
The movie’s genre is obscure. I expected a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies sort of a vibe but ended up with a straight up romance/mystery. It left me stumped as to the film’s ideal audience. I imagine you need to already be in love with Poe in order to appreciate this movie. Although I can see hip 8th grade teachers showing this to jaded English classes to rouse interest in poetry through a little gore.
In summary, it’s a visual collage of Poe’s greatest works. Any lover of his stories would enjoy seeing it; it was fun, just not the definitive Poe movie we have all been lusting for.