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The Raven wasn’t made by an Italian. As a giallo flick, this fictionalized account of the unknown events surrounding the last week of Edgar Allan Poe’s life could have been a better match for John Cusack’s laudable characterization of the American literary giant. Instead, V for Vendetta/Ninja Assassin director James McTeigue chose an ill-fitting Saw Meets Se7en vibe. When several bodies turn up murdered in a manner inspired by the works of Poe, America’s premier writer of the fantastic and grotesque may be the key to the police investigation, led by Inspector Fields (Luke Evans, The Three Musketeers’s Aramis). After Poe’s beloved, Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve, She’s Out of My League), is kidnapped, the author’s urgency manifestly increases. The inventive story by writers Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare is charged with potential that their screenplay, McTeigue’s direction and subpar supporting players quickly strangle. Dialogue is weak, at best, and Cusack is propping up everyone but Brendan Gleeson (though the near cameo from “Downton Abbey”’s Brendan Coyle pleases). Those weaknesses could be overcome with a sense of giallo style; imagine the mad field day even aged Argento could have had with this tale. ]]>

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