Raven’s Hollow

A Solid And Effective Horror Period Film

By Liselotte Vanophem

Whether you see him as the most rebellious writer or one of the greatest American poets, you can’t deny that writer/poet Edgar Allen Poe had a massive influence on the creative world. His stories and macabre poetry have been the perfect inspiration for literary works, films and television series. This time, it’s Poe’s “The Raven” who flies to the big screen in “Raven’s Hollow”, the latest movie from director Christopher Hatton (“Battle of the Damned”, “Cyber Wars”). You will see a different side of Poe (one that might be unknown to you), and you will catch a beautifully shot, well-acted and sinister film, so what’s not to love?

Before becoming known as a writer, Edgar Allan Poe (William Moseley) was an Army cadet, precisely the period in his life this movie focusses on. While travelling with four other brothers-in-arms, Poe encounters a grotesque body hanging on a wooden structure. It seems like it has been offered to the higher power. The man is still alive but barely. Right before dying, he says ‘Raven’.

Because Poe wants to leave no one behind, he convinces his soldiers to carry the body to the nearest town, “Raven’s Hollow”. When arriving, the townsfolk of this almost-deserted town aren’t very happy to see the cadets, and that feeling becomes mutual when Poe figures out that the townsfolk are hiding something regarding the body. It’s then that Poe’s sense of camaraderie sets in, and he reminds his cadets of their duties.

The group decides to stay in the only town hotel, run by the mother-daughter duo of Elizabeth (Kate Dickie) and Charlotte (Melanie Zanetti) Ingram. However, that’s a decision that they will soon regret. One of the cadets, Thomas (Michael Guest), gets attacked by a winged beast, and his decapitated body is found not so long after that. One of the townfolks, Usher (Oberon K.A. Adjepong), tells the soldiers that the killing is the work of the ‘Raven’ that has been terrorizing the town for years. At first, Poe doesn’t seem to believe him, but when the bodies start to pile up, it appears that the secrets of the town become even darker.

When watching “Raven’s Hollow,” it becomes clear that this film will never be more than a B-level horror, gothic, mystery film. Still, there’s nothing wrong with that, especially if it’s a movie that’s made with a lot of passion and an excellent eye for gorgeous cinematography. Unfortunately, impassive writing is the main reason “Raven’s Hollow” can’t reach its full potential. Yes, Hatton and co-writer Chuck Reeves (“Ogre”) know how to include meaningful Poe references without those becoming too distracting, but the overall flow of the conversations isn’t 100% right. It all feels a bit too forced and wooden.

Taking on the role as one of the most notorious writers probably wasn’t easy, but Moseley (“ The Courier “, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”) certainly hits all the right notes. During our interview with him, Moseley told us that he devoured many audiobooks as preparation for this role, and they did the trick. This lead performance highest the many aspects of Poe beautifully. From the more sensitive side to the most snobby Poe and from the determined officer to the soldier who values camaraderie a lot.

The mysterious allure of Charlotte and her more secretive and darker sides are wonderfully portrayed thanks to a more reserved and intriguing performance by Zanetti (“Gabriel’s Rapture”, “ Love and Monsters”), with whom we also had an interview< ahead of the release of this film. Dickie (“ The Complex “, “The Witch”) is becoming an expert in the horror and thriller genre, and she gives Elizabeth many dark, sinister secrets layers, with the most hidden one being revealed right at the end.

The film’s greatest strength is undoubtedly the visual aspect. The dark cinematography is stunningly accompanied by the stunning period scenery and ambient lighting. If you combine a wonderfully crafted soundtrack (which relies heavily on tension-creating and frantic dissonance), you get the perfect mood and atmosphere for a periodic horror tale. While it’s clear that there wasn’t a big budget for the CGI, you don’t have to worry about that at all, as the CGI isn’t used very often. “Raven’s Hollow” is a horror movie that leaves the gore behind and focuses on creating the atmosphere and setting the right tone.

While the dialogues and the script feel a bit forced and the CGI certainly isn’t on-point, “Raven’s Hollow” is still a solid horror-period piece filled with atmospheric dread, exquisitely shot scenes and compelling acting performances.

“Raven’s Hollow” is now available on Shudder.

Originally published at https://www.ocmoviereviews.com.

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