The Raven, 2012 Directed by James McTeigue


10/1/12 – America Thriller about Edgar Allen Poe’s, The Raven

Last Saturday I decided to watch “The Raven” an American thriller directed by James McTeigue. The film starts off with a mysterious murder scenario, although the police soon discover that the murders are inspired by a poem also known as “The Raven”  by Edgar Allen Poe, a famous writer who is known for his dark and gruesome stories.

John Cusack does play an excellent role as Edgar Allen Poe who begins to work with the police in order to search for the killer. While the film wasn’t too dark or grotesque, the cinematography was rather interesting. There was only one murder scene at the very start of the film that did make my skin crawl, although there wasn’t too many other murder scenes that were gruesome. The film was suspenseful although I do believe that the murder scenes could have been more dramatic; on the other hand “The Raven” does deliver an unexpected twist towards the very end of the film.

John Cusak as Edgar Allen Poe & Alice Eve as Emily Hamilton at the Masquerade Ball. 

I did find “The Raven” very theatrical; for me personally the theatricality does retract some of the dark or the grotesque elements within the film. If I was to watch “The Raven” for the second time, I would properly skip to the most interesting parts within the film. In saying this, I do find the costumes and the props rather impressive especially within the masquerade scene.

There was one scene in particular that captured my attention; during the masquerade ball the killer had sent a messenger directly to Edgar Allen Poe. The messenger had made a grand entrance with his horse, his dark cloak and his skull mask, everyone else attending the masquerade looked rather horrified as the mysterious guest begins to converse with Edgar. The mask did make a very interesting contrast with the colourful outfits that were worn at the masquerade.

The Raven
Messenger at the Masquerade Ball

What I do find interesting is the reference to the skull; throughout the entire film I had noticed the skull within the background. At some stage, the film had reminded me of the Momento Mori especially when the skull was placed on the desk or the bookshelf. The Momento Mori was a European art style within the 15 century and the skull was used as “reminder of mortality”, as referenced by Kristine Koozin. In most of the paintings I have seen, the skull is often juxtaposed opposite an hour-glass, a book or a vase full of flowers. This particular arrangement was used within “the Raven”, it’s not noticeable at first, you do have to look closer to recognise the items within the backdrop. The backdrop and the costumes did compliment the style of the film that was set in America during the 1840’s.


James McTeigue who directed “The Raven” has also directed big blockbuster films such as “V for Vendetta”. While the theatricality suited V for Vendetta, I don’t think it suits McTeigue’s most recent production. While I did enjoy watching “The Raven”, I wasn’t too shocked by the murder scenes. The cinematography is rather impressive and the twist towards the end of the film is rather surprising, although the murder scenes were rather weak in terms of blood and gore. For more information please click on the links below.

Kozzin, Kristine. “Introduction” in The Vanitas Still Lifes of Harmen Steenwyck: Metaphoric Realism. New York: The Edwin Ellen Press, 1990.

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4 responses to “The Raven, 2012 Directed by James McTeigue

  • Parlor of Horror

    Yes, The Momento Mori, symbolism I had adopted many years ago and use quite often in my public profile.

    • Black Calavera

      Thanks for the reply, Yeah I am beginning to see the Momento Mori quite a lot especially in popular culture.
      mmm that is an interesting image you have used for your public profile / avatar, is it something you have been researching or working with? I do find the Momento Mori very interesting and the way it is used in popular culture is also very interesting.

      • Parlor of Horror

        It started when I was a musician, I always had a skull in all my pics and album covers – the Rock&Roll mantra has always been ‘live life to the fullest’ so I used the Momento Mori as the reason why. When I played live I usually had a skull on my amp. You can see some of my old videos at:

      • Black Calavera

        Ohh that is interesting, I just checked out the youtube clip, thanks for the link by the way. I’ve been interested in the way the skull is depicted in music, but the momento mori is another interesting concept aswell 🙂

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