The Raven is not the worst movie I have ever seen in a theater.
When I was 12 years old, a bunch of friends and I biked down to the GCC Orleans 8 at Roosevelt Mall in Philly and paid hard-earned cash for Treasure of the Four Crowns (in 3D). That movie was so bad, I have blocked out everything about it except the final shot, wherein a snake shoots out of a skull's eye socket, directly at the audience. It was the 80s, and it was 3D.
When I lived in Atlanta, I spent a rainy evening sitting in a theater watching Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe's War. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize profusely to the young lady who went with me; to be fair, the other choices that evening weren't any better, and I had these vague hopes that the presence of Matt Frewer would at least render the film tolerable. I was wrong, and that was the second-worst movie I'd ever seen in a theater.
The third-worst movie I ever saw in a theater was Doogal, a re-dubbed version of a CGI movie based on a European kid's show. It featured the vocal talents of both Jon Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen, which meant that for my wife, it was the equivalent of porn. Three minutes in, she leaned over and whispered, "Honey, I'm so sorry".
Which means, despite stiff competition from Fantastic Four 2 and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Date Movie, The Raven is probably the fourth-worst movie I've ever seen in a theater.
Now, I am sure of a couple of things. I am sure that there are those among you who will go see it and feel that I'm way off base. That's your right; if you can find enjoyment in it, you have my heartfelt blessing. I'm also sure that even if you do like it, you will find laughing out loud at the closing credits sequence, which looks to have wandered in from an entirely different movie, one which possibly starred Matt Damon, or Daniel Craig. And I am absolutely certain that you will agree that, receding hairline or no, John Cusack looks nothing like Edgar Allan Poe.
Cusack's just part of the problem with the film. He's at least energetic at points, though he walks into every scene with his face in an "o" of surprise. Most of the rest of the acting is so wooden that they should spray the theater for termites. I'm guessing that was director James McTeigue's take on "period" - everyone's so stiff they sound like they've already been embalmed. Then again, that may be the fault of the script, which manages to hit the sweet spot of nearly limitless exposition - this thing lays more pipe than the Keystone XL - with still leaving plot points major and minor unexplained.
The internal logic of the film is spotty, too. The villain demands that our hero, the occasionally alcoholic Poe, perform a specific task, and then goes about making it impossible for him to perform it (he somehow does it anyway, largely offscreen). A lantern that's blown out in one shot is lit in the next; the richest man in Baltimore apparently belongs to a parish church miles from civilization. And of course, the plot is set up that the villain is yet another supervillain serial killer, capable of performing astonishing acts of butchery, carpentry, mechanical engineering and masonry on a timeframe that would make The Flash blush.
In a nutshell, this film lives at the intersection of Sherlock Holmes 2 and Saw 4: a famous period detective-type, mixed up with moments of torture porn. If that's your thing, go for it. It certainly wasn't mine.