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Did Nicolas Cage finally say "no" to a cheesy role? It looks like John Cusack got to this one first, giving a hammy portrayal of the brooding author Edgar Allan Poe in this idiotic period thriller.

Cusack's Poe is a hard-drinking writer constantly complaining of writer's block and his many critics — who include the Baltimore tycoon (Brendan Gleeson) who won't let his daughter Emma (Alice Eve) marry Poe. Then some of Poe's critics start dying in gruesome ways, all of them reminiscent of Poe's writings. Police Detective Fields (Luke Evans) first brings in Poe as a suspect, but eventually enlists him as a consultant to find the Poe-obsessed killer, but not before the criminal has kidnapped Emma and buried her alive.

The plot, devised by writers Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare, idiotically trips over its own twisted logic (we basically figure out the killer's identity because nearly everyone else is dead), while director James McTiegue ("V for Vendetta") wallows in gore sequences as repellent as anything in the "Saw" franchise but more artfully shot.

Cusack overacts in the extreme, following the long-discredited rule that the louder you get, the more intense your acting seems.; —


'The Raven'

Opens Friday, April 27, at theaters everywhere; rated R for bloody violence and grisly images; 111 minutes. For more movie reviews, visit

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