• Guy Jeffries

The Limehouse Golem Review


Director: Juan Carlos Medina.

Starring: Olivia Cooke, Bill Nighy, Douglas Booth, Daniel Mays, Eddie Marsan, María Valverde, Sam Reid.

I'm not shy of period dramas, but I always have an apprehension that I'm going to find the film slow or boring, even though that rarely happens. However, there was no fear of that with this gory murder mystery that keeps you on your suspicious toes throughout.

It's based on a novel "Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem" written by Peter Ackroyd and first published in 1994. A fictional macabre murder mystery that's set in Victorian east London, prior to infamous Jack The Ripper that involves real historical characters like Karl Marx, George Gissing and of course, the comedian extraordinaire, Dan Leno.

Gruesome, bloody murders are happening throughout the poverty stricken district that's over crowded with poor immigrants, undesirables and the lowest of the low criminals that gives rise to a myth being born, The Limehouse Golem that strikes fear to the people of London. It's up to the newly appointed Inspector Kildare (Nighy) to investigate and put a a stop to the horrendous killings. Though, one of the key suspects has been murdered, with his widowed wife as prime suspect sitting on trial and with her help, Kildare races to uncover the myth behind the Golem and possibly set her free.

It's Jane Goodman that pens the screenplay to this film, having read the book before she became a writer herself, thinking that someone should adapt it for the screen. She is the famed screenwriter behind personal favourites, Kick-Ass and Kingsmen, though I know they're both very different from this genre of horror. She also wrote the screenplay to The Woman in Black if that helps. Glady, fate would have it, that she would bumped into the producer who owned the rights and thus, the project came in being.

The story is brilliantly laid out with a creative narrative structure as each suspect goes through the motions of the investigation. Jumping to and fro, from dark horrifying murder scenes to the wonderful, majestic scenes of the dance hall. There's a few musical numbers throw in for good measure that actually adds to the entertainment value of the film and though still dark in it own way, it makes a nice contrast.

The entire production is incredibly good, bringing darken streets of Victorian London no matter the time of day, and the lively, grand dance hall to life. Costumes and makeup are perfectly fitting and Johan Söderqvist provides an impressive and suitable score, mostly notably the theatrical pieces. As too is the script, that's smart, sharp and very captivating from each character. But especially from the three key parts, Cooke, Nighy and Booth.

The performances from all are extremely good, expectedly so from Nighy, Nighy stepping in for Alan Rickman's unfortunate absence, to whom the film is dedicated to. But it was both Cooke and Booth that steal the show, Booth having a candor and style that reminded me of Russell Brand. He proves to be a superb entertainer demand attention from the crowd, who would make a perfect Freddie Mercury.

Even the supporting cast add a great deal to the film. Mays as the likeable but slightly naive Constable Flood. Reid as one of the key suspects makes him the British equivalent to Armie Hammer and Valverde doesn't quite steal the show but put on a beautiful and convincing performance.

More impressively so is Juan Carlos Medina's direction, with this only being his second feature length film and his first English spoken. The entwined stories of his debut Catalan speaking feature, Painless, certainly earned him the attention to helm this picture.

It's certainly from the same vein as From Hell with a twist of Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and any fans of the London Dungeons should feel right at home. A great murderous thriller.

Running Time: 8

The Cast: 9

Performance: 9

Direction: 8

Story: 8

Script: 9

Creativity: 9

Soundtrack: 9

Job Description: 7

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

76% 8/10

#JuanCarlosMedina #OliviaCooke #BillNighy #DouglasBooth #DanielMays #EddieMarsan #MaríaValverde #SamReid #AdamBrown #JohanSöderqvist #JaneGoodman