Edgar Allan Poe invented the detective story, so turning him into the heroic sleuth of a mystery thriller makes perfect sense, and the much-debated circumstances of his death in October 1849 provide an ideal jumping-off point for this macabre entertainment. Screenwriters Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare sketch in Poe’s alleged alcoholism and vicious spats with literary colleagues before the author (John Cusack) is recruited by a Baltimore police detective (Luke Evans) to help track down a serial killer who’s riffing on Poe’s stories. This may conjure up unpleasant memories of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies, but Ritchie could learn a lot from director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta); this is multiplex fare to be sure, but McTeigue manages to popularize 19th-century literature without completely vulgarizing it. With Alice Eve and Brendan Gleeson.
R • 1 hour 51 min • 2012