Film Review: The Limehouse Golem (2017)

2017 in Cinema:

The Limehouse Golem, 2017

Directed by: Juan Carlos Medina

Starring: Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke, Douglas Booth, Daniel Mays, Sam Reid, Maria Valverde, Henry Goodman, Morgan Watkins, Eddie Marsan

 

The Limhouse Golem is a British murder-mystery, horror-thriller and is an adaptation of Peter Ackroyd’s novel Dan Lemo and the Limehouse Golem. It stars Bill Nighy (as Inspector John Kildare) as a detective assigned to solve the murders in Limehouse, but it seems he’s being used as a scapegoat for when the case isn’t solved. Meanwhile Elizabeth Cree (Olivia Cooke) is going through a court hearing to determine her guilt with regards to her husband’s death of poisoning. Her husband, John Cree (Sam Reid), is coincidentally one of the four main suspects on Kildare’s list, which unites Kildare and Elizabeth. A large part of the film, then, is told through flashbacks of Elizabeth’s life, from her childhood (where she was raped) to her joining of the theatre with Dan Leno (Douglas Booth), which was where she met John Cree, who was also being courted at the time by Avalie (Maria Valverde).

This is a very fine film, and has a lot more to offer than a basic murder mystery. It is rumoured that Kildare is gay (and during Victorian England times that wasn’t acceptable of a policeman) which is why he’s being used as the scapegoat for this failed investigation. Bill Nighy is fantastic in this film; expertly playing a detective determined to solve the case and a new close friend of Elizabeth’s as they spend time together in her jail cell. However, fine acting and a well-paced plot are nice to have, but for a murder mystery film to be good it needs to have its mystery a very satisfying one: and The Limehouse Golem does. It threatens to be pretty average (by labelling the four contenders you instantly assume they’re all not guilty, thus eliminating most of the cast), with handwriting used as the main tool to catch the killer: if they have the same style handwriting, it’s them, if not they’re off the list and Kildare moves on. Even so, it’s a satisfying conclusion.

Olivia Cooke, along with Nighy, is fantastic here, too: brilliantly acting through many stages of her life with many emotions (she gets raped as an adult, a singer on stage, a worker behind the stage, a lover to John and a suspected criminal), and Olivia Cooke smashes each one brilliantly.

And while the film connects as a murder mystery, its thriller aspect works very well, too: having Elizabeth’s sentence coincides with their efforts to catch the Golem make for a decent chase scene towards the end which, again, has a satisfying conclusion. The film also looks beautiful: the streets of Victorian London to the attire to the gruesome way the murders are done (which sounds weird to call that beautiful), but what I truly loved about this film’s appearance was how it showed us all the murders, but perpetrated by different suspects. Their main piece of evidence is a diary in the library, which the Golem has been using to write about his killings; when they seek a handwriting sample of everyone it cuts to them speaking the diary entry while committing the murder themselves, and this goes for all the suspects, and it is a brilliantly unique method to use to show what each killer would look like in that scenario.

I really enjoyed The LImehouse Golem, it had enough intrigue throughout with enough character work to keep me invested in all parties. The mystery killer threatened to be interesting but with its reveal they still managed to add a little bit of a shock value which was satisfying. A beautiful looking film with an interesting style, added with brilliant acting makes this a film well worth checking out.

 

Plot: * * * *

Acting: * * * *

Writing: * * * *

Presentation: * * * * *

Overall Rating: * * * * ¼

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