The director of V for Vendetta returns to direct yet another gothic horror tale, this time round based on the mysterious life of the american horror writer Edgar Allen Poe. The story follows a series of grizzly crimes carried out by a serial killer adapting them from the stories of Poe. But when Poe's love is taken he must work with the police and solve a series of cryptic clues in order to save her. At first glance the story is intriguing, but it never reaches its full potential. Its decidedly straight forward and is never twisty or shocking enough to be truly gripping. The script is also somewhat poorly written, the dialogue seems clunky and inconsistent and at times too modern for its setting.
However, John Cusack is a great Poe, looking both haunted and eccentric and delivering a decent performance considering the script he's been saddled with. Other cast members are less memorable, Brendan Gleeson and Luke Evans are given decent parts but again the dialogue is never polished enough. Alice Eve delivers a good performance as Poe's love but isn't given very much to do.
As for the direction, it is effective, there are some well staged set pieces, both disturbing and fast paced but its not sweeping and subtle enough. The period setting could have been used to greater effect to achieve a more gritty, realistic atmosphere, but is instead a bit too polished and hollywood to achieve the gothic, spooky setting this film needed. The soundtrack, too, is not effectively scary or jumpy enough and does nothing to heighten the tense occasions dotted sporadically throughout the film.
Overall, the Raven needed a whole new script, a grittier atmosphere and more twists in the story. That said it is an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours and won't require much effort to follow and the performance by Cusack is great. I'd say wait until it is cheaper. Another drawback to this dvd is the complete lack of special features, not so much as a blooper reel or deleted scene in sight.