I went to see The Raven at the NIFFF (Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival) last night. That famous Swiss punctuality hit the wall right off the bat. They made us wait outside 15 minutes past entry time - in any other country that might seem a sniffle of a complaint, but in Switzerland you get used to things happening when people say they will. Freakish, but true. It would have been fine but had the film run over we might have missed our train home. I digress. The other problem with being made to wait outside was the queuing.
Look, I know I'm English/British, whatever, and I know that makes some of my behaviours a little different from my fellow human beings, but for fuck's sake, how hard is it to fucking QUEUE?! It's a basic question of manners. I hope that the little pushing-in beardy ballbag and the tiny woman behind me who apparently couldn't see the large lady in a BRIGHT RED COAT STANDING DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF HER and consequently kept seeming surprised that when she tried she couldn't actually walk through me, get giant fucking piles. I hope they are primo with the itchy too. And those two are just the top of the list. Pfft.
Anyway, we finally got in and after more waiting around for someone to scratch their ever-loving balls or wotnot, the film began. Apart from the stalwart cast of British actors - all of whom were excellent - and the fine costumes, it was a bit ... shit. It wasn't terrible, I don't mean that, it was just a bit ... well, shit. Giant plot wank aside - and some of the holes, confusion and obviousness were resplendent with the seminal fluid - John Cusack was like a twitching Nic Cage pastiche or, indeed, a pastiche of himself at his most manic. His hair was worrisome. Black is not his colour - it doesn't hide the fact that he no longer has that plush quiffy goodness that used to serve him so well. I love Cusack. I'll watch anything with him in it but his performance was too bombastic, separating him from the rest of proceedings with an uncomfortable "elephant in the room" distance. At times I wondered if it was supposed to be a comedy - Cusack seemed almost like he was playing for laughs, but his enduring seriousness would suggest otherwise.
The whole "meta" thing was jarring too. The references to how only people like Poe and the murderer would appreciate such horrific stories because they're "like proper weird and shit" lacked only a turn to camera and a wink. Enough already. I know I like horror, big fucking deal. Save the Scary Movie shitdickery to the Scary Movie franchise. It belongs where I won't see it.
Possible *SPOILER* - the clue for who the murderer is comes not long into the film and if you've got half your brain switched on, it's very hard to miss. I fell down the plot hole and didn't feel much like coming out.
All that said, it was a fairly good watch. I sound like a ballbag after bleating on, but it didn't bore me - as the Mister said last night, directors shouldn't be afraid to keep the running time down, and McTeigue didn't (although he probably could have cut another few minutes out here and there) Luke Evans in a frock coat was a lovely sight to behold. His carved granite face can be uber-serious (I find myself frowning along with him) but I always find him engaging, and he was none the less so in this. As I've already said, the rest of the cast were great and kept it together against the odds of Cusack's mummery. It could have been a much better film with more attention to the kind of plots Poe can fuck you up with and if someone else had played him. I give it 5/10