Yes, John Cusack’s The Raven is a Real Movie

John Cusack is Nicholas Cage-ing out of control.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and now… this.

Rotten Tomatoes (which has The Raven at 22%) describes the film thusly:

The macabre and lurid tales of Edgar Allan Poe are vividly brought to life – and death – in this stylish, gothic thriller starring John Cusack as the infamous author. When a madman begins committing horrific murders inspired by Poe’s darkest works, a young Baltimore detective (Luke Evans) joins forces with Poe in a quest to get inside the killer’s mind in order to stop him from making every one of Poe’s brutal stories a blood chilling reality. A deadly game of cat and mouse ensues, which escalates when Poe’s love (Alice Eve) becomes the next target. Intrepid Pictures’ The Raven also stars Brendan Gleeson and Oliver Jackson-Cohen.

Many reviewers and film blogs accuse John Cusack’s The Raven of trying to hop on the bandwagon constructed by Seth Grahame-Smith — namely, adding a supernatural twist to an established work of classic fiction. But I would posit the theory that The Raven, which blends Poe’s work with the figure of Poe himself, is borne of a much more sinister origin: 1998’s Sleepy Hollow. After all, it’s not like this movie has added zombies or vampires or androids or sea monsters. Instead, it’s just the really, really dumb (and already-used) concept of making the lead character — or, in this case, author — a detective within the story.

As always, Kate Beaton says it best.

But wait — why add a detective? Poe is famous for having given birth to the modern detective story to begin with. The problem is that only the nerdiest English major would actually know who C. August Dupin is, so it’s a lot easier to focus instead on Poe himself since every angst-ridden teen has tried to find dark significance in “The Raven” at some point.

"He just gets me, you know?"

Given that every movie in the last few years seems to be an adaptation or a sequel anyway, I suppose should at least applaud the attempt to turn an adaptation into something more original, but this movie looks so mind-numbingly stupid, it’s hard to get enthusiastic.

And can we just agree that there is nothing exciting or fun or quirky or cute about this recent trend in fiction? I tried reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the problem was not the fact that “the canon” was being screwed with, but rather that there were not nearly enough zombies. The truth is that you can’t half-ass a zombie adaptation of classic literature.

I blame Johnny Depp, and this movie, for Steampunk.

Equally true: no one thought Sleepy Hollow was a good idea, so why are we trying again?

5 thoughts on “Yes, John Cusack’s The Raven is a Real Movie

    • Cusack really captures his essence in that moment.

      I also like that there is such a “mystery” surrounding Poe’s death. He was found dead on the front steps of city hall. He almost certainly got crazy wasted, passed out and died of exposure.

      But no, scratch that, it was probably a mysterious serial killer and/or Satan.

      • It just smacks of “The Poe Shadow” by Matthew Pearl (whose “Dante Club” is the only famous-writers-as-detectives novel I’ve ever liked). At least Pearl used Dupin in his story, sort of (the real-life detective who inspired Dupin is a character).

      • I heard The Dante Club was good. Meant to read it ages ago (2010 doesn’t seem like ages ago, but there you have it).

        See, I think my biggest problem with this movie is that — in general — Dupin gets no love. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle very clearly (but to be fair, he admitted it) lifted the Dupin stories to launch Sherlock Holmes and while I totally get why Holmes is the famous one, I feel like this would have been a good opportunity to *finally* bring Dupin to the big screen. I suspected it, but I’ve checked and it’s true: Dupin has never been in a single movie. Every appearance (according to IMDB) has been a TV show or a TV movie.

        That shit ain’t right.

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