The Horror Honeys: God gave him a spark of genius, and quenched it in misery.

God gave him a spark of genius, and quenched it in misery.

A True Crime Honey Review

The Raven - 2012

Like any good little goth girl, I've been a long time obsessive reader and collector of the works of Edgar Allen Poe as well as being a tad obsessed with Gothic Hisotry.  So, when The Raven came out in theatres last year, I was all over that shit.

I also think I'm in a vast minority when it comes to fangirling over actors, and I've never gotten the appeal of John Cusack as a sex symbol.  When I heard that he was cast in The Raven, I thought he would be the perfect Poe...Cusack has a decent track record of playing dry, witty, self-depricating and slightly rogueish characters; which is exactly how I had always imagined Poe would have been in real life.  Misunderstood, brooding, and more than a little weird.  In short, my kind of guy.  Keep in mind, I still don't find Cusack sexually interesting...but when he flings down a lyrical Poe mindfuck...I'm so there.

Watch out for the horse poop...

I often forget that Poe is an American author...mostly because, I don't know if America was ever ready for Poe in that sense.  Mark Twain, sure, America gets him...he was a good 'ol boy from the South.  But Poe...I'm not quite sure that America ever identified with him, and The Raven makes sure to hammer this point home just a bit.  Also the drinking....but we'll get to that later, because at this point, it looks pretty normal to me.

Typos were way more annoying back in the 1800's
While a work of fiction, based on works of fiction, The Raven falls under the True Crime Honey designation hard up in the first few minutes as murders based on Poe's most famous writings are committed in the streets of Baltimore and Poe himself must find the murderer before his beloved becomes the next victim.  One part victim of an obsessed murderous "fan", one part reluctant hero, Poe is pulled ever closer to the murders both in the manner of their execution and in the chronicling of the events surrounding each death.  In an age where the newspapers actually functioned as the only reliable vehicle for the mass consumption and distribution of information, the power of the press was a very real entity; and Poe's murderous nemesis uses that fact to full advantage.  Other serial killers have used this method to gain attention...Jack the Ripper, The Son of Sam, Zodiac, BTK...with different levels of success, taunting the police force, staying in the shadows but staying on the minds of the public.  Creating hysteria.  Maintaining control.
Poe's murderous muse, instead of writing his own letters, uses Poe to not only accomplish this, but in a twisted way uses the press to bring Poe back to the public eye as a brilliantly dark literary voice.  Fandom at it's creepiest...

I haven't given away much of the plot-line of The Raven, but suffice to say that the film follows Poe's own obsessions as a writer very faithfully, and the colour palette that one would expect from such a darkly focused man, and a pretty dirty period in world history...I'm talking coal dust and no bathing here, people....  Poe's writings focused on the darker aspects of life, the impermanence of it all;  key themes of mourning, loss, questions about death, and the fear of premature burial.  Because aside from being a real medical possibility at that time, nothing ruins a day more than waking up underground.

Not again!

My favourite thing about The Raven, is the use of Poe's literary works to create a delicious recipe for murder.  My favourite death, (and favourite Vincent Price film for that matter) is based on The Pit and the Pendulum.  Wonderfully imagined and accomplished with a healthy dose of gore too.
Other works raising their eerie heads include: The Raven (of course), The Telltale Heart, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Masque of the Red Death, The Cask of Amontillado, and Annabel Lee.

I'm a huge fan of The Raven for many reasons, first and foremost as a chick with black hair who used to stay up ridiculously late reading Poe until my guttering candles melted away to nothing (so goth, OMG).  Secondly as a hardcore horror movie lover...the blood and gore is here in a BIG way, and the effects are very well, (and most importantly) very intelligently done.  This isn't a film for the "gore for the sake of gore" types, this is a thinker of a film.
"Thou Honeymaking....Thing...."     Right.

Unlike my other reviews, I'm going to take a minute to talk about the casting...a stunning performance from Alice Eve as strong yet demure love interest Emily Hamilton, and equally great support from Kevin McNally (who will always just be Mr. Gibbs to me) as Poe's editor/boss/confidant, Maddux rounds out why I keep coming back to this film.

And I have to say much as I LOVE The Raven, I just CAN'T unsee John Cusack mouth breathing his way through his scenes.  I just can't.  And now you can't either...