DVD review: The Raven, (15), (111 mins), new on DVD from Blockbuster.

The critics weren’t too kind to it on its cinema release, but The Raven is certainly worth catching on DVD - a real romp of a murder mystery which combines plenty of imagination with a dash of romance and bucket loads of grisly gore.

Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) is a drunken pariah in Baltimore society, but things really nosedive when he becomes embroiled in a ghastly series of killings seemingly and tauntingly of his own making.

The killer chillingly recreates the gruesome ends Poe has dealt out to the characters in his own short stories. A woman’s throat is cut; another is stuffed up a chimney; and a chubby writer is sliced in two by a swinging pendulum.

Fleetingly Poe is a suspect; the next moment he is Detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans)’s best hope of anticipating the serial killer’s next move. But the killer remains one step ahead, abducting Poe’s beloved (Alice Eve), all the better to torment him - and her.

There’s always something a little unsettling about films which dream up nasties for people who actually lived and breathed, but in truth the divide between reality and fiction was probably fairly muddied in Poe’s life anyway - and an excellent performance from Cusack as the tormented author does the rest.

The copycat notion is an intriguing one, and it is worked out well, with a fair degree of tension and a devilishly-ingenious twist.

Phil Hewitt

Rental courtesy of Blockbuster. For details of other new releases, see www.blockbuster.co.uk.