** (out of four)
When a thriller features an author famous for a story about an incessantly beating heart, the movie has no excuse not to make viewers’ chests pound, too.
Sadly, “The Raven” turns a fictionalized take on the last days of
Cusack struggles to present the arrogant author as both a tortured genius and a credible investigator—thank you, writers, for avoiding a terrible joke about the Poe-lice—while director James McTeigue (“Ninja Assassin”) fares better with images of a head tilted slightly off the neck, rather than gruesome “Saw”-like torture devices. People do like the gory ones, Poe’s editor (Kevin McNally) points out, but “The Raven” grinds along without the craft or the shocking powers of its subject. Given the option, you’d skip to the end, read the last few pages and move along.