‘The Pale Blue Eye’: Harry Melling Says His Edgar Allan Poe Is an ‘Intellectual Show-off’ in Gothic Netflix Film

Christian Bale, Harry Melling - 'The Pale Blue Eyes'

Just imagine if famed master of macabre fiction Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling) had started his career as an aspiring poet… and a West Point cadet with a string of murders to investigate. That’s the conceit in The Pale Blue Eye, premiering Friday, January 6 on Netflix.

This moody 19th century gothic mystery takes a dark turn when Poe’s classmates are being killed and, gruesomely, stripped of their tickers. (Yep, the heart is a tell-tale clue.) In this film based on Louis Bayard’s 2006 novel, the clever Poe is tapped to help catch the killer by a world-weary retired detective, Augustus Landor (Christian Bale). Landor has been recruited by top military brass to solve things fast and hush it up.

As for The Queen’s Gambit alum’s young poet, Melling says he finds a comrade in Landor.

“Poe is a witty, intellectual show-off constantly looking for a sense of family and belonging. He finds it in Detective Landor; both are outsiders, and it’s a lovely relationship,” Melling tells TV Insider, who learned to write with a quill pen for the role and practiced lines in a cemetery.

Poe (who actually attended the military academy) and Landor suspect a cult’s involvement and consult phrenologist and occult expert Jean-Pépé (Robert Duvall). Poe also falls for spirited Lea Marquis (Lucy Boynton) in the flick, whose potentially fatal epilepsy is kept under wraps by her family, including eccentric mom Julia (Gillian Anderson). That’s not the only secret. Warns Melling, “At the time, West Point was a very dangerous place. And everyone is at risk.”

The Pale Blue Eye also stars Toby Jones, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlie Tahan, Fred Hechinger, and Timothy Spall with director and screenwriter Scott Cooper. Filmed in Pennsylvania, the film features a cameo from newly elected Pennsylvania senator John Fetterman and his wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman.

The Pale Blue Eye, Original Film Premiere, Friday, January 6, Netflix