The famous Gothic author Edgar Allan Poe has been the topic of many stories lately. A brand new movie, Raven’s Hollow, is exclusively coming to the horror streaming platform Shudder. As a self-described superfan of Poe, I am always excited for new stories with him as a lead character. After The Raven, I did not believe any movie could come close to the same exceptional standard. I am happy to report that this film is a solid second, which is a massive compliment from me. Here are my thoughts on the new original story.
About Raven’s Hollow
As a young man, Poe spent time as a West Point cadet; this movie takes place during that time. Poe (William Moseley) and four other cadets embark on a training exercise. While out, the five men stumble upon a gruesome scene. A man, barely alive, is tied to two trees arched together. He manages to whisper a single phrase to Poe, “The Raven.” From this point, they find themselves in a small, essentially forgotten community.
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Drawn in by the mysterious murder and the even more mysterious town, Poe is determined to discover what is going on and who may be next. As the story progresses, Poe faces questions of what is real and who to trust. Can he figure out this town’s secrets before it is too late? Only time will tell. The hollow belongs to the raven, and the cadets are trespassing.
Raven’s Hollow also stars Melanie Zanetti, Kate Dickie, Callum Woodhouse, Callum McGowen, David Hayman, Mathis Landwehr and Oberon K.A. Adjepong. Christopher Hatton directed, and he, along with Chuck Reeves, wrote the story.
Most stories starring Poe as the protagonist feature the latter half of the man’s life. They focus on him writing his stories or meeting his Annabelle Lee. Raven’s Hollow, by contrast, hones in on his younger days when he was a cadet at West Point. Automatically, this gives the film points for originality.
One of my favorite things about this movie is the gorgeous sets along with the brilliant atmosphere. The scenery is beyond beautiful, and the settings are incredibly gothic. There is one scene in particular in the opening sequence that hooked me. It is visually stunning and the effects used are well crafted and executed. Similarly, the atmosphere throughout the film adds that perfect creepiness that enhances the overall story.
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The atmosphere gains some of its effectiveness from the cinematography, which, in my mind, deserves an award. There are a few flashback scenes, and the filming of those is incredibly unique. Michael Rizzi deserves every praise for his work.
Another point that endeared this film to me was the mass amount of references to Poe’s stories. Some of those mentioned are The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher. Additionally, the film contains many references to The Raven, including his sorrow for the lost Lenore. They are not overdone or in your face, but fans of Poe will easily spot all of the little things scattered throughout Raven’s Hollow that pay homage to his works.
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There are quite a few nods to Poe’s real life. This film even “explains” how he got started using opium. Other moments tie into Poe’s torrid and tragic love life. There are not as many real-world tie-ins as in The Raven, but there are several.
The effects are surprisingly good. There are some excellent practical effects and a few decent CGI moments. In addition to the FX, the filming is everything. I know I already talked about the cinematography, but I must bring it up again. This movie has some of the most beautiful and well-shot scenes. The effects would not hit the same way without the incredible filming. Sadly, the main “villain” boasts the worst effects in the entire film.
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All of the actors do an admirable job with the characters. Moseley, in particular, is a fantastic Poe. A few moments seem a bit off, but I am unsure if that is due to the acting or writing.
Overall, I recommend checking out Raven’s Hollow, which releases exclusively on Shudder on September 22, 2022. Take a look at the trailer below. What is your favorite Edgar Allan Poe story? Tell us in the comments!
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