Today (October 7th) marks the “death day” of famed 19th century author Edgar Allan Poe. So what better way to celebrate the life of the man often credited for inventing the detective fiction genre – and penning famous (creepy) short stories like “The Pit and the Pendulum” – than by watching the trailer for the Poe-based thriller, The Raven?

An official trailer has been released for The Raven, a film which is not based on Poe’s iconic poem of the same name. Instead, it’s a Gothic mystery-thriller that sees the American author join forces with the police (Castle-style), in order to track down and stop a serial killer who’s clearly read one too many Poe stories.

The Raven was directed by James McTeigue, the helmer of action-packed titles like the V for Vendetta movie and Ninja Assassin – not to mention, his uncredited work as director on the 2007 adaptation of “The Body Snatchers” (titled The Invasion). Suffice to say, bloody violence and thrills are McTeigue’s forte – and The Raven looks to boast plenty of both, based on this early footage.

Here is the official synopsis for The Raven:

When a mother and daughter are found brutally murdered in 19th century Baltimore, Detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) makes a startling discovery: the crime resembles a fictional murder described in gory detail in the local newspaper—part of a collection of stories penned by struggling writer and social pariah Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack). But even as Poe is questioned by police, another grisly murder occurs, also inspired by a popular Poe story. Realizing a serial killer is on the loose using Poe’s writings as the backdrop for his bloody rampage, Fields enlists the author’s help in stopping the attacks. But when it appears someone close to Poe may become the murderer’s next victim, the stakes become even higher and the inventor of the detective story calls on his own powers of deduction to try to solve the case before it’s too late.

Now check out the Raven trailer below:

Visually and thematically, The Raven looks like a cross between Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes and the Hughes Brothers’ From Hell adaptation. Its 1800s setting appears to be a Gothic variation on the slick, yet gritty, period aesthetic of Holmes – though, so far, McTeigue’s Raven doesn’t look to include the explosive action set pieces that people seem to either love or hate in Ritchie’s literature “update.” The Poe thriller also looks to (appropriately) feature more graphic violence and stylishly gloomy atmosphere.

The big wild card here is Cusack playing Poe. It’s certainly possible  that he could disappear into the role of the morose, dark-haired author – but, in this early footage, Cusack arguably comes off as just someone who’s simply dressed up as Poe for a Halloween party. Considering that he’s meant to be the main focus of the film, there’s reason to be concerned that Cusack isn’t up to the task of making Poe a believable (enough) and engaging lead to rally around. On the other hand – Evans looks to pull off his part as a dignified detective pretty well, so that should help.

All quibbles aside, The Raven seems like it has the potential to be a fun murder-mystery thriller – or, at the least, a less ridiculous period adventure than Evans’ next starring vehicle, The Three Musketeers (for better or for worse).

The Raven stars Luke Evans, John Cusack, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson, Kevin McNally, Brendan Coyle, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen. It swoops into U.S. theaters on March 9th, 2012.

Source: iTunes Movie Trailers