John Cusack plays Poe at the end of his life, a pariah who can’t rustle up a drink in his hometown of Baltimore. He’s utterly obnoxious, and even abuses the newspaper editor who has published his work. This is not a good way to start a film; while we eventually learn some of the reasons this celebrated author has wound up impoverished and alone, they still don’t make him an ideal hero. Circumstance is the only reason we root for him as a police inspector (Luke Evans) discovers that a series of grisly murders is being enacted according to the exact details of Poe’s macabre writings. When the woman Poe has fallen in love with (Alice Eve) is abducted, the stakes get even higher: now Poe and the policeman must race against the clock to rescue the innocent woman.
The gulf between this film and the actual stories of Edgar Allan Poe is as wide as Mark Twain’s famous comparison of the words “lightning” and “lightning bug.” All it represents is a waste of time and talent.