“With its dark and engaging narratives, visceral bloodletting, satisfying jump scares, and solid performance from William Moseley, Shudder’s Raven’s Hollow is a solid addition to your Halloween watchlist.”
The works of Edgar Allan Poe are renowned around the world. From his dark poetry to his literary masterwork on The Raven, his celebrated writings are a cornerstone of academia. And rightly so, his work has had a profound impact on our culture. But what was the inspiration behind Poe’s sudden fascination with the macabre? And more importantly, what could have caused his sudden discharge from the military in 1831?
Enter RAVEN’S HOLLOW. Directed by Christopher Hatton, the movie centers on the early life of Edgar Allan Poe during his time as a Cadet at Westpoint Military Academy. Whilst out on training exercise with four squadmates, Poe stumbles upon a mutilated man tethered to a tree in the woods. With his dying breath, the man indicates that the perpetrator of his brutal treatment resided in the nearby town of Raven’s Hollow. A ghostly village populated by a brooding collective of sullen locals, all of whom harbor deep, dark secrets.
EDGAR ALLAN POE
Lensed from the perspective of the steadfast future poet, the film utilizes some intense visuals that help to preserve a chilling tone throughout its one-hour and thirty-eight-minute running time. From the outset, Hatton promptly sets the tone for what is a functional supernatural mystery. And it is uncompromising. The cinematography compliments the well-crafted period scenery, and the combination of the two delivers a solid, harrowing, and engaging tale of monsters and mayhem. The usage of ambient and natural light plunges the movie into some dark and often intense gloominess. But the movie is all the better for it. And when the bloodletting starts in earnest, the movie embraces it with zeal.
Led brilliantly by William Moseley’s Poe, Hatton frames the movie as a supernatural murder mystery. One packed to the brim with jump scares, bloodletting, and demon worship. The visceral injuries and fast-flowing blood look excellent throughout, and they continue to impress when set against the gloomy atmosphere. Adding even more weight to the atmosphere, the subdued musical score injects a constant sense of dread and unease as Poe wanders through the smoke filled-woods. And the more he uncovers, the darker the story becomes. And thankfully, it holds our attention throughout and keeps us invested until the credits roll.
The success of a horror-themed period drama like this rests on the back of its special effects, and for the most part, Raven’s Hollow sticks the landing. As mentioned above, the prosthetics and graphic injury detail are vivid and intense and never let up in their vigor. However, some of the clunky CGI does manage to take some of the sparkle away from the finished product. But it doesn’t detract too much from what is otherwise a notable addition to Shudder’s horror treasure trove.
The score is mostly superb as well. It opens with some truly melancholy themes before giving way to some seriously intense soundscapes. The heavy usage of tension-creating music builds into a crescendo that accompanies the movie perfectly. And in a darkened room effortlessly conveys a sense of dread and foreboding throughout. Which is the mark of an artist at the top of their game. The strength of the score cannot be understated, and I defy anyone not to jump out of their seat when the scares begin to flow.
The supporting cast is also littered with solid performances. In fact, there are many places where the actors shine. However, many of them quickly find themselves banished to the shadows until they are needed further down the line. But I guess that was a necessary foil to hammer home Poe’s isolation as he struggles to endure his brush with the supernatural. The exception to the rule is Kate Dickie’s mysterious Elizabet Ingram. Despite having limited screen time, Dickie’s presence is a constant throughout proceedings, and her pitch-perfect intensity helps to ramp up the mysticism at every turn. Even when she is off-screen. Her performance is that strong. And when coupled with the solid performance of Melanie Zanetti who plays her daughter Charlotte, the duo makes for the perfect dark and mysterious double act.
For me, Raven’s Hollow is a solid horror movie. Perfect for the build-up to Halloween. If Christopher Hatton set out to deliver a truly atmospheric supernatural thriller, he succeeded. With its dark and engaging narratives, visceral bloodletting, satisfying jump scares, and solid performance from William Moseley, the movie is a solid addition to your Halloween watchlist. Throughout its seldom dull one-hour and thirty-eight-minute running time, the story never overstays its welcome and pleasantly ushers its audience to its inevitable conclusion. You may need the replace your seat cushions and possibly even need to regrow your fingernails when all is said and done. But these are the hallmarks of a great horror movie. And when the dust settles, you’ll be yearning for more adventures as the clock ticks down to All Hallow’s Eve.
Raven’s Hollow is streaming on Shudder right now. Grab your popcorn, turn down the lights and allow yourself to be transported to 1831 for a chilling horror movie that you’ll never forget. Nevermore…
Feel the Force on Social Media.
Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager, and Editor-In-Chief of The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force and babbles frequently!