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Evil always has a name…
In spite of having to deal with some oddly placed beats in the narrative, The Limehouse Golem is a genuinely creepy affair that manages to balance the blood and guts with the murder/mystery element of this story to get to something that will delight fans looking for a thriller and those looking for a little bit of gore.
The city of London has succumbed to a paralyzing fear that it finds itself in the cold grips of as a serial killer; dubbed ‘The Limehouse Golem’ is on the loose. With only cryptic messages written in blood left at the crime scene, there are few leads and public pressure is mounting so Scotland Yard assigns the case to a seasoned detective; one Inspector Kildaire (Bill Nighy). He’s got the experience but also a troubled past and can’t help but shake the feeling that he’s being set up for a fall on this one. Staring down a long list of suspects including music hall star Dan Leno (Douglas Booth). Kildare has to get help from a witness with a myriad of legal troubles of her own (Olivia Cooke) so he can follow the clues and ultimately bring this vicious killer to justice.
While the pacing of it all is a little uneven, there’s enough in The Limehouse Golem thanks to some very solid direction a distinct visual style and some strong performances to bring it all home in a nice and neat little horror/thriller package.
Director Juan Carlos Medina is someone who is unquestionably on the rise as this film had a very gothic yet still necessarily vibrant visual style to it as he tries to bring the best elements of all the genres in play here to bear witness on the screen. He slides us through the streets of London with vicious aplomb making sure the grit and depression of the time was in counter balance with the violence and the gore inherent in the story. Yeah it does drift off on the occasionally useless tangent, but Medina always keeps it engaging from beginning to end. Writer Jane Goldman adapting from the novel by Peter Ackroyd does get the tone right to put us in the right frame of mind but you can’t help but feel like she either cut a little too much from the book or needed to add something back in. It was solid to be sure but was lacking a little more character development both from the leads and the peripheral characters to make it feel like it was something special.
Bill Nighy who is seemingly getting to play somewhat of a heroic character for the first time in his life jumps into the material with an uncommon enthusiasm that translates on to the screen. His Kildaire is a flawed but likeable hero who is driven to find the murderer by any means necessary and you can tell he’s having fun with the role as it translates over into his performance. It makes for a fun dynamic when the narrative and story get a little wonky and his natural energy carry the film. Olivia Cooke brings a nice counterpoint to Nighy’s character and their back and forth is what makes the movie work for the most part. The rest of the ensemble is OK as Douglas Booth gets to chew a little scenery but the rest of the ensemble is pretty forgettable and the consistently Eddie Marsan is just flat out underused here and that’s something that you never want to see in a feature film.
Picture and sound quality are solid, and the special features on the BD include four behind the scenes featurettes about the making of the film and a photo gallery.
Ultimately, The Limehouse Golem isn’t the kind of movie that will satisfy all comers, but it does more than enough right to make it a worthwhile watch.