The Raven

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Raven Movie Poster Image
Tell-tale Poe thriller has heavy gore, drinking.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A self-obsessed writer learns to care for and work with others, though he occasionally relapses into rudeness, melancholy, and drinking. He works with others to overcome a deadly challenge. Love becomes an extremely powerful motivator for him. The dangers of self-obsession are clear. Themes of self-sacrifice.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Poe is an inspiration in one way: as a writer. But as a character in this movie, he's questionable. He's a hard drinker, and drugs are alluded to. He's a generally pessimistic person, rude, and arrogant, though there's hope for him, since he has fallen in love and learns to work with others. Detective Fields is a man of integrity and drive.


Extremely grisly murders, with gallons of spurting, gurgling blood. A man is sliced in half with a swinging blade; a man's throat is sliced; and viewers see several bloody, mangled corpses, including one of a 12-year-old girl. The female lead is kidnapped and locked in a coffin (a la "The Premature Burial"). There are guns and shooting. One of the main characters is shot in the shoulder, and he howls in pain as a doctor digs for the bullet with a knife. A cadaver is tortured. Viewers also see a dead cat, a dead raven, a human heart (being eaten by a raccoon), and a human tongue. Also some "jump" scenes, lots of arguing, and some punching.


The hero kisses his lady love a few times. They begin to kiss passionately, and he unties the strings on the front of her dress, but they stop. The heroine's cleavage is on display in at least one scene. One or two mentions of eroticism and/or innuendo.


Possibly one use of "f---ing," though it comes in the middle of a heated argument, and it's not easy to make out. Other words include "s--t," "damn," "bastard," "son of a bitch," "hell," "twat," "whore," "piss," "goddamn," and "oh my God."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Poe is shown to be an addict. He drinks a lot -- mostly brandy and whisky -- though he's not always drunk (when he is, he's belligerent and abrasive). He's also seen smoking cigarettes, and he's referred to as an "opium addict," though drugs are never shown. Social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Raven is an extremely gory serial killer thriller about author Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) that incorporates facts from his life, as well as fictional elements. There are several very bloody murders and mangled dead bodies, and the female lead is kidnapped and buried alive. There are also guns, shooting, punching, and shouting, and Poe is shown to be an addict (he drinks often, smokes cigarettes once or twice, and is referred to as an opium addict, though drugs are never shown). Language is fairly infrequent, with one possible use of "f---ing," as well as a handful of lesser words. Brief sexuality includes cleavage shots and some kissing.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymasaxo April 27, 2012


This movie is good i love Edgar Allen Poe and his stories they are really cool. The only thing i will say is not recomend it to young kids .
Adult Written byCamisita May 29, 2014

Great Adult film, John Cusack did great!

I don't think this movie is for kids, tweens, or even early teens at all. Why are parents so lenient with movie content? Let's be a bit more restricti... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byStevie111 April 27, 2012

Extremely well done thriller packed with gore

This is an extremely bloody movie. All on-screen killings are bloody. The movie is very well done and is loaded with suspense.
Teen, 15 years old Written byYpseru March 14, 2014

Violent, but excellent movie

Language, yes, but I didn't notice it too much throughout the movie. Throughout the movie, though, Edgar is seen drinking, and there are a whole bunch of d... Continue reading

What's the story?

In 1849 Baltimore, Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) has run out of stories and is now writing bitter criticisms for the newspaper, mainly to pay for his drinking. Fortunately, he has met Emily (Alice Eve) and is finally on the verge of happiness. Unfortunately, a serial killer has emerged, leaving a trail of bodies that echo the creative murders in Poe's dark stories. Police Detective Fields (Luke Evans) enlists Poe to help catch the fiend -- whose next crime is "The Premature Burial," with Emily as the victim. Can Poe and Fields rescue her before time runs out? What price will Poe pay?

Is it any good?

James McTeigue -- of V for Vendetta fame -- directs THE RAVEN with an eye mostly on art direction: wet cobblestone streets and foggy woods, as well as the occasional raven dotting the landscape. He adds tremendous amounts of gore, despite the fact that gore isn't really what drove Poe's original tales. And even if the story itself isn't particularly Poe-like, Poe is a great character, and even if the mystery isn't exactly brilliant, it's perfectly serviceable.

The Raven's biggest problem is that the ranting, tormented Poe in the movie's first half is more fun than the heroic Poe of the second half. Cusack is fine in the role, but even he can't seem to tie the two sides together. Additionally, Eve seems wrong for period fare, and Evans is a bit wooden. They're all aided, however, by sparking dialogue; Cusack especially savors each delicious word as he delivers them into the ether. Overall, the enjoyable elements outweigh the disappointing ones, and The Raven works.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Raven's violence. How does the blood and gore in this movie compare with the violence in Poe's stories? Which has more impact?

  • Does Poe seem like an addict in this movie? What makes him drink and smoke? Why do you think drinking is shown, but not drugs?

  • How accurate do you think this movie is? Why do filmmakers sometimes alter historical events? How could you find out more about Poe's real life?

  • Does this movie make it look fun to be a writer? Is it possible to be a writer without drinking and suffering?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

Themes & Topics

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