“The Limehouse Golem” Review

3 September, 2017

Director: Juan Carlos Medina
Screenwriter: Jane Goldman
Director of Photography: Simon Dennis
Cast: 
Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke, Douglas Booth

Synopsis: An experienced police inspector working in London during the late 1800s volunteers to crack a monstrous case involving a group of music hall comedians whose intertwining stories link to a series of cold-blooded murders.

Limehouse Golem Review:

A Victorian-era slasher with a love for the old-school detective novel, “The Limehouse Golem” is a traditional murder mystery for fans of the classic ‘whodunit’ thriller, showcasing rickety chills and abiding by the laws of its genre while speeding ahead in far more violent fashion than expected. Approaching the bench with intrusive questions and convenient confessions, the movie explores the heinous nature of homicide in a manner that daytime detective dramas wouldn’t even dream of pursuing, pumping thrills directly into the eyeballs through mangled kills and casual dismemberment as a tale of late-night slaughter unfolds with little sympathy for its victims.

An old-fashioned killing spree with a taste for swift justice, “The Limehouse Golem” Cluedos its way to the truth like a hound on a scent, snatching key suspects and pondering over their potential involvement in a “Se7en”-like manner. Rendering its monster faceless through a visual manhunt, the film approaches its tizzied Jack the Ripper tale from numerous angles, referring to only one written confession yet exploring a variety of faces as the clues fall into place like a fairly standard “Sherlock Holmes” story.

Missing the piercing line-delivery of the late and great Alan Rickman, whose casting as the film’s star John Kildare came too late into his real-life cancer diagnosis, the movie does its best to respectfully recast its lead role, but Bill Nighy’s presence is haunted by an absence that lives beyond the boundaries of the film screen. Doing wonders to the source material but also reminding us that a better film could’ve existed had its original star not missed out on the opportunity, “The Limehouse Golem” is a performative disappointment even in its most gripping stages.

Adapted to be more fraught and flamboyant than your average BBC drama, “The Limehouse Golem” prizes exhibition over grace, separating itself from television and capturing the true essence of music hall entertainment in an exuberant, gender-bending uproar of pain and passion. Modifying the rules of literature by embracing the imaginative chaos of cinema, the film is a one-night-only exercise in vaudevillian justice, painting a picture that’s hard to stomach and even harder to have faith in; an absurdist melodrama relying on the allure of untarnished fame to carry its orgy of blood and butchery.

 

   

Summary
Review Date
Movie
The Limehouse Golem
Rating
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