The always-interesting John Cusack does a good job of playing Poe as an arrogant and angry character, railing against his literary rivals, and against both his poverty and the mercenary motives of his current publisher, newspaperman Maddux (Kevin McNally). When two women are found dead in a situation mimicking Poe's mystery story, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," Poe is dragged into the investigation by Detective Emmet Fields (Luke Evans). Detective Fields, although not a fan of Poe, has read his stories, and seems to be trying to apply the techniques set out by Poe's detective, Auguste Dupin; at any rate, he is a highly rational and thoughtful policeman for the 1840's.
The situation gets worse when the killer, prefiguring "Jack the Ripper", starts corresponding with the newspaper, and demands that Poe himself chronicle both the murders and Poe's part in the investigation.
In proper Poe-esque fashion, the story goes to some very dark places and is unsparing in the horror (with one scene that is VERY gory and graphic--be warned!)and winds to a grim, but satisfying, conclusion. Cusack and Evans are well supported by Alice Eve as Poe's love interest, and a strong cast of veteran character actors. The setting is very nice (one doubts that 1849 Baltimore looked as good as the East European locations that stood in for it) and costuming ranging from very handsome to gorgeous in the Masked Ball scene.
My one criticism would be that Cusack looks too healthy to be the alcoholic Poe in the last year of his life. Other than that, the script treats Poe well, pointing out real items from his past including that he attended West Point. The plot is a good whodunnit, which kept us guessing almost up to the final reveal. There are some plot holes and required suspensions of disbelief, but not so large as to derail being drawn in to the story.
Recommended for fans of Poe, of period crime stories, and of horror films that still have some class.
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