Lately, John Cusack has been playing nice, normal guys next door less often than action heroes ("2012"), horror victims ("1408") and...well, he still plays nice, normal guys too ("Hot Tub Time Machine").

Now, he's playing what may be the darkest role of his career: Edgar Allen Poe, on the trail of a serial killer inspired by his work in 19th century Baltimore. Alice Eve ("She's Out of My League") and Luke Evans ("Immortals") co-star. "V For Vendetta" helmer James McTeigue directed. 

Realtivity Media is giving us our first look at the film, as the initial trailer hit the Internet today. On the surface, it looks a bit like "Seven" crossed with "The Secret Window," but set in Victorian times. The dark streets are slick with rain, the oil lamps barely illuminating the grisly murders taking place that will seem familiar for anyone who has read Poe. And so much fog!

Nowadays, parents groups and church organizations are quick to wag their collective fingers at the level of violence found in fictional media, but some of Poe's century-old stories are pretty horrific even by modern standards. It'll be interesting to see how McTeigue handles the film's inherent violence, and the trailer indicates that it'll be fairly gory and somewhat sensationalized. Although it looks more serious in tone that other recent mash-ups featuring historical figures up against violent crime an/or the supernatural (such as the upcoming "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," or from the same author, "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"). 

On another note, the irrepressibly charming Cusack may be out of his league playing a character of such solemnity, but Luke Evans seems destined for stardom -- he'll also appear in the upcoming "Lord of the Rings" prequel, "The Hobbit."

The film opens nationwide March 9, 2012.



Nerd Alert! For more real-life authors hunting down serial killers, check out 1979's "Time After Time," in which H.G. Wells (Malcolm MacDowell) travels through time on the trail of Jack the Ripper (David Warner). 
 
What do you think of the trailer?