Film Review: Edgar Allan Poe’s Lighthouse Keeper

Edgar Allan Poe’s Lighthouse Keeper has some good chilling moments, although the atmosphere is not sustained throughout.

A man wakes up on a remote peninsula, not remembering his name or how he got there. He is given refuge by the lighthouse keeper, who tells him that they are the only two people on the peninsula. The man, however, sees a beautiful young woman…

Directed and co-written by Benjamin Cooper (with Carl Edge), the film is based on an unfinished story by Edgar Allan Poe. As such, Cooper and Edge have license to shape the narrative how they wish. Edgar Allan Poe’s Lighthouse Keeper is a mystery, with horror overtones that grow as the film progresses.

The first half of the film builds atmosphere rather well. Cooper plays on the tension between J.P. and Walsh, contrasting it well with the burgeoning relationship between J.P. and Nora. Jump scares are not used to liberally in the first half, which allows for the narrative to develop. The second half of Lighthouse Keeper is less satisfying, however. The narrative becomes a little predictable, and it feels like the film rushes into horror. The brooding gothic mystery which came before is a much more effective tone.

It is clear that Lighthouse Keeper has been made on a small budget. This is not a hindrance at all to begin with, as Cooper makes good use of light and shadow. However, there are some poor special effects later on in the film, and the reliance on showing the creatures also shows the lack of budget. It appears that Cooper was inspired by earlier adaptations of Poe’s work. The old film effect is a nice touch. Vernon Wells gives a strong performance as Walsh; he brings a fitting blend of melancholy and agitation to the role. Matt O’Neill and Rachel Riley are decent as J.P. and Nora, but it is Wells who is most memorable.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Lighthouse Keeper has a strong start, but pushes too hard to turn a mystery into a horror. The film’s early promise is let down by a lacklustre second half.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Lighthouse Keeper will be available to watch on Digital Download from 27th November 2017.

Film Review: The Raven

James McTiegue’s film does not live up to its fantastic premise. The Raven is not a terrible movie, but merely a disappointing one.

In 1849, writer Edgar Allan Poe is drinking frequently and poor, on account of not having had any work published for a while. When some grisly murders are committed, police detective Emmett Fields realises that the crimes have been based on the works of Poe. Fields enlists the writer to help with his investigation…

The Raven proposes such a great idea for a film, one that really plays into Poe’s talent for the macabre. All the right elements are there; murder mystery, the works of Poe and the always watchable John Cusack. Nevertheless, some lacklustre writing and direction lets the film down.

The screenplay does not make the most of Poe’s work, despite a strong start. The writer’s stories seem to get lost in the overarching rescue mission, which is less convincing. It is a shame that the film took this route, as The Raven would have been far more interesting if it maintained the more straightforward train of Poe being drafted in to help catch a killer emulating his stories. Changes made to Poe’s history are fine, given that this is a work of pure fiction. However, as a fictional character, Poe changes too dramatically over the course of the duration. The ending, with the reveal of the culprit and Poe’s handling of this, is just diabolical.

McTiegue’s direction fails to deliver. The tone is wrong, with the film starting off a bit campy, but then trying to get serious. The romantic aspect of the narrative also lets the film down. More emphasis should have been placed on wits and intrigue. The final third is action-heavy, again taking the idea too far away from what originally was presented. The Raven fails to deliver tension when it is really needed. Notwithstanding, the pendulum sequence is well executed. Remarks about critics, however, are unlikely to have gone down too well with film critics, as they seem to be quite an overt dig.

Performances in The Raven are patchy. Cusack does a decent job as Poe, although he is more effective when hamming up the character in the earlier scenes. Alice Eve is less convincing, as is Luke Evans later on in the film. Special effects are good, but the overall art direction of sets seem inauthentic. Greater use of lighting would have worked better, especially given the macabre themes of the film.

The Raven does entertain, but is simply not as satisfying as it should have been. If the film directs viewers back to the works of Poe, then at least is serves a good purpose.

2012’s Most Anticipated

As 2012 arrives imminently, I thought I would share some of my cinematic picks for next year. Below are the films I am most looking forward to seeing next year. These do not include films that I have already seen that are due for general release in the next few months, such as Shame or Martha Marcy May Marlene.

1. The Muppets

Although The Muppets was released in America months ago, it is not due for UK release until February. It seems that we have reverted back to the 1980s in that the UK is getting such a big movie as this months after the US. I love the Muppets, so cannot wait for the film. I have tried not to read too much about it, but all that I am hearing so far is positive. The Muppets is released on 10th February 2012.

2. The Raven

From the trailer, this film seems to have everything; macabre murder mystery, Edgar Allan Poe and John Cusack. I love Poe’s work and the premise of The Raven sounds great; Poe pursues a serial killer who bases his crimes on the author’s work. Hopefully the execution will do the idea justice. The Raven is released on 9th March 2012.

3. Prometheus

Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated new addition to the Alien franchise, the teaser trailer for Prometheus has recently been released. It does not give too much away, but it looks very interesting. Hopefully with Scott at the helm, Prometheus will return to Alien‘s combination of science fiction and horror. With a cast which boasts Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace, Prometheus is very exciting on paper. The film is released on 1st June 2012.

4. The Dark Knight Rises

The grandaddy of them all, the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy will be one of the biggest movies of the summer. I recently watched the prologue, which was impressive on the Imax screen. Like others, I was concerned that I couldn’t understand Bane properly. The trailer looks magnificent, so as long as Bane’s voice becomes clearer, the film should be a fitting end to a fantastic franchise. The Dark Knight Rises is released 20th July 2012.

5. Frankenweenie

Another remake from Tim Burton, but at least this time he is remaking his own work. Frankenweenie was a live action short from the director’s time at Disney. Stills from the film were recently released; Burton aficionados are likely to find them reminiscent of Vincent, a short directed by the filmmaker around the same time as Frankenweenie. The stop-motion remake tells the story of a boy who tries to bring his dog back to life, a homage to Shelley’s Frankenstein. Frankenweenie is released 5th October 2012.

6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings was a triumphant film series, and fans of the books were no doubt pleased when it was announced that the director would return for The Hobbit. On a personal level, I am excited for the film because I love Gollum. The trailer shows the return of familiar faces; hopefully the film will be of the same quality as the earlier series. The Hobbit is released 14th December 2012.

The Raven Trailer

I want to see this movie! It looks like it has everything; macabre murder mystery, the works of Edgar Allan Poe and John Cusack. So what if I was introduced to the author by that Halloween episode of The Simpsons? Poe is one of the few authors I have really enjoyed reading (not including picture books). The film takes an interesting angle; a murderer who is inspired by the author’s tales. The Raven is released on 9th March 2012.