Review: The Limehouse Golem

The Limehouse Golem
7 10

PLOT: A police inspector (Bill Nighy) in Victorian London, tries to solve a series of serial killings with the help of an imprisoned musical hall performer (Olivia Cooke).

REVIEW: If you ever wondered what it might be like if Bill Nighy played Sherlock Holmes in a straight-forward adaptation, THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM has your predictable answer - he would have been great. Often typecast in daffy, serio-comic parts (to which - I’ll admit - he’s cast to perfection) such as in the recent THEIR FINEST, this offers Nighy a rare chance to play the leading man in a solid genre outing, based on Peter Ackroyd’s historical fiction novel.

As per the genre, screenwriter Jane Goldman (KICK-ASS, KINGSMAN) blends many historical characters, such as Karl Marx, George Gissing, and the now obscure Dan Leno, one of the era’s most famous pantomimes, into an imaginary telling of a real series of serial murders that shook London at the time. The killings, as depicted here, don’t follow as clear-cut a profile as the similar Jack the Ripper, with the titular Golem killing men, women and children without prejudice.

Nighy, perfectly cast although he was apparently a last minute replacement for the late Alan Rickman, plays a genius inspector who’s assigned the case so he can be made a scapegoat for the police department, who are embarrassed by rumors of his homosexuality. A modern detective with a soft spot for the oppressed, he deduces that the Golem is one of four suspects, with one of them the murdered husband of a stage actress, who’s been sentenced to death for poisoning him.

Played by Olivia Cooke (the upcoming READY PLAYER ONE), much of the film consists of her telling Nighy the story of her career on stage, under the tutelage of the cross-dressing Leno (a colorful Douglas Booth), which, includes numerous violent run-ins with a variety of sadists, any whom of which could also be the Golem.

The movie crosses back and forth between her story and Nighy’s investigation, which pairs him up with another closeted cop (Daniel Mays). More of a procedural than a horror thriller, THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM nevertheless has a handful of grand guignol kills and some violent stabs at black humor, giving this a sort of Hammer horror vibe. A major release in the UK (but mostly VOD here), it boasts lush production values, and is beautifully directed by Juan Carlos Medina, although it might be a little too low-key to have gotten much theatrical play.

Like many good pieces of historical fiction, it’s evocative of the time, although perhaps a little too convenient in how so many of the Golem suspects are major figures of the era. The ending also seems a touch easy to predict, although getting there is a lot of fun. THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM is one of the better VOD titles to drop recently, and a solid pick, not only for genre fans, but also anyone interested in the era or a good mystery.

Source: JoBlo.com



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