The unsettling atmosphere will transport, while the macabre mystery intrigues. Scott Cooper’s The Pale Blue Eye is both a period murder-mystery drama and serves as an imaginative origin story for Edgar Allan Poe. With skeletons in every character’s closet, the enigma of a mystery will beckon audiences to solve the mystery along with Christian Bale’s character. Based on the novel by the same name, the film adaptation is in the same vein as The Cursed from earlier this year and Antlers from last year. Both of which are among my favorites of the last two years. So, if you liked either of those films, you will mostly likely enjoy this one as well. In addition to the aforementioned, the film also reminds me a little of Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow (1999). Unlike the film’s to which I have likened this one, The Pale Blue Eye is heavier on mystery than it is horror. While Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories and poems have been the inspiration for hundreds of films, and his writing itself, foundational in the development of the American Horror Film (expressionism+surrealism+Freud+Poe), this is one of few films that feature Poe himself–or rather–a fictionalized version of the towering literary figure. What I appreciate about this imaginative origin story is showing a different side to Poe–a side that is actually funny and quirky. Because this is a mystery, I am unable to discuss details as that could spoil important plot points. But it’s important to note that this film’s mise-en-scene strikes a balance between one that is concerned with atmosphere and proper plotting. So often, films that are heavy on atmosphere are lacking in the story-structure department, but not this one. Despite the runtime of 2-hours, no scene ever lingers too long. If you enjoy period murder-mysteries, then you’ll undoubtedly enjoy this film. The Pale Blue Eye hits cinemas on December 23rd and Netflix on January 6th.
Ryan teaches Film Studies and Screenwriting at the University of Tampa and is a member of the Critics Association of Central Florida. If you like this article, check out the others and FOLLOW this blog! Interested in Ryan making a guest appearance on your podcast or contributing to your website? Send him a DM on Twitter. If you’re ever in Tampa or Orlando, feel free to catch a movie with him.
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