John Cusack steps into the shoes (and moustache) of Edgar Allan Poe, in the ahistorical murder mystery The Raven. Director James McTeigue says the movie will be like Seven, with a series of grisly killings based on Poe's tales.
The Raven trailer received its first public screening at Comic-Con today. The movie is set in a reimagined version of Poe's final five days, when a serial killer strikes Baltimore (Serbia stands in for pre-industrial Maryland). Young inspector Emmett Fields (played by Luke Evans) initially suspects Poe, since the killings contain elements of Poe's stories. But it quickly becomes clear that a fan of Poe's work is challenging the author's "detective mind" with these killings and invites Poe to play a deadly game. The killer kidnaps Poe's beloved Emily (Alice Eve), burying her alive. As the killing spree continues, Poe's deranged fan leaves clues on his victims' bodies, which, if Poe and Fields solve them quickly enough, could save Emily's life.
The trailer gives us a glimpse of "The Pit and the Pendulum"'s ghastly pendulum in action, a live burial straight from "The Cask of the Amontillado," and a masquerade — perhaps out of "The Masque of the Red Death," but more likely from "Hop-Frog," which Cusack listed as his favorite Poe story and referenced several times during the panel.
McTeigue likened the film to Seven with its emphasis on themed murders, and confessed that he "liberated" his film from the "dour" reality of Poe's end days. The movie's fidelity, he says, was not to Poe's life, but to the inspiration behind his tales. "To do justice to Poe, you have to honor what Poe was, what the stories meant to him, how they came about."
And Cusack's Poe is a charismatic figure, something Cusack says he found true to Poe's letters and Peter Cusack's biography Poe, a Life Cut Short. He called Poe the "Godfather of Goth," said he saw elements of Hunter S. Thompson in Poe's writings, "That precision of mind, the willingness to enter the abyss, and wanted to bring the Poe who was celebrated in salons yet comfortable in the gutter to the screen:
He was a bit of a rock star in his day....He was world famous and he had a huge ego. He loved the women he loved and he was very charismatic. And he was funny! Some of his stories, like "Hop-Frog" have a sardonic, sick sense of humor.