Spoilers came upon a midnight dreary and ran like hell.
Okey I have a problem here. You can’t add the pretentious tagline of “the exquisite horror of Edgar Allan Poe” to a movie that is not based on any of his works. I do get you’re trying to pay some sort of a homage, but it just plays like a work of fanfiction that could’ve used a few more revisions before hitting the screen. I wonder if you can guess by now how this review is going to go…
Raven’s Hollow (2022) was directed by Christopher Hatton who co-wrote it with Chuck Reeves. It’s 1830 and a group of US Army cadets on training exercises are headed back to the academy when they run into a bludgeoned man propped up like a scarecrow. One of the cadets, Edgar Poe (William Moseley), approaches him and manages to hear his sole dying word: “raven”. Edgar convinces his companions to cut the man down and bring his corpse to the nearby town, which is called Raven’s Hollow. The townspeople are secretive and unwelcoming except for Charlotte (Melanie Zanetti) who offers them lodging for the night despite the obvious disapproval of her mother Elizabet (Kate Dickie).
It’s not based on any writings of Poe but it has themes that borrow from his stories. Unfortunately, it doesn’t borrow a plot. This is basically a fictional story about Poe before he became a writer. The dialog is clunky, stunted and repetitive. After the dying man says “raven” to Edgar, one of the mounted cadets asks him what he said because he’s far away and mounted on a horse. Edgar has then to tell the other cadets that the dying man said “raven”. After that, they bring the man over to Raven’s Hollow. Then Edgar has to explain to the townsfolk that they think he was from there because he said “raven”. They deny that the man was from there but Edgar thinks that perhaps he was killed by someone from the town. Half if not all of this dialog should have ended in the cutting room floor.
You could have made a drinking game every time the word raven comes up and ended up drunk before the actual thing shows up. Yes, this is a creature movie even though Poe’s body of work never included actual monster stories. I was hoping at least we could have included some detective work since it is considered Poe invented the genre (C. Auguste Dupin, anybody?). Also, a bit of research should tell you that Poe actually enlisted under the fake name of Edgar A. Perry, so filmmakers could’ve actually kept his identity a secret – but then you can’t print the name all over this film.
Okey, it didn’t work for me. The further it moves along, the less the scenes seem to have any particular tie with each other. Characters keep explaining things to other characters that we already know so we’re always waiting on someone to catch up. When we finally see the thing (no, I am not saying raven again – oh dammit) it’s cheap CGI and any idea you were going to be scared goes out the window. I will give props to Kate Dickie’s performance as inn keeper Elizabet who has mastered the stern death stare.
Not recommended. It just didn’t work. Stunted repetitive dialog, lack of flow from one scene to another, zero chemistry between characters and lack of actual horror made this one a flop for me. Feels like a rough draft rather than a finished film. Perhaps I completely miss it. Perhaps I’m giving the film a rougher time because it tried to make up a connection to Edgar Allan Poe but did a rather poor job at it. Either way, I don’t think this is worth watching even once.
That will do for now.