I walked into The Limehouse Golem, admittedly, not expecting much. Period films always seem a bit of a drag, and the trailer to this one felt more like a BBC mini series than a feature length film. However, I am pleased to say that The Limehouse Golem is one of those rare instances where the film is actually considerably better than the trailer.
The film is of course, led by a stellar cast- how I could doubt, going in, if I would enjoy a film starring Bill Nighy is another mistake of mine- and Douglas Booth as always, transforms into his character like a butterfly from a cocoon.
Despite the rest of the casts efforts, the spotlight is totally stolen by Olivia Cooke, in her captivating portrayal of Little Lizzie Cree. Her child-like innocence and tragic past seep through her refined lady-of-the-house manner, and inspire both the films characters and audience to feel the need to protect her, to see her walk free from the crime of which she is accused.
‘The line between comedy and tragedy is a fine one’ Lizzie tells us, defending the feminist music hall performances of Douglas Booth’s Dan Leno. She might as well be describing The Limehouse Golem- the film begins littered with comedic moments and light hearted songs on the stage of Londons music halls, giving it an almost farcical tone. However, as the plot moves forward and you find yourself in the thick of the mystery, the jokes are dropped and the true horror begins to reveal itself.
What comes next is exactly what you would expect from a film which likens itself to the story of Jack The Ripper. Eyeballs are gauged out, throats are slit, blood is splattered on faces in various dreamlike sequences as Bill Nighy’s Inspector Kildare imagines each suspect committing the dreadful murders of the titular Limehouse Golem.
There are moments in the dialogue that feel like they were written for stage rather than screen, but if anything this adds to the theatrical theme of The Limehouse Golem– half of the characters spend the majority of the film in stage costumes- the film even opens with the curtains parting on stage at the musical hall to reveal a make-up clad Dan Leno exclaiming ‘Let us begin at the end!’
The plot is fast paced and ever turning down unexpected paths, both compelling and gripping, and the cinematography is comprised of mostly close to mid shots- succeeding in what I assume was director Juan Carlos Medina’s intention of making the audience feel uncomfortable, almost to the point of claustrophobic. The film seems painstakingly well made from every angle across the board, it is truly artful.
Give The Limehouse Golem a chance and you will not be disappointed.