Victorian London, well known to genre fans for the many films and books about Jack the Ripper and Count Dracula. It’s opulent wealth and abject poverty both providing great backdrops for horror. Now director Juan Carlos Medina (PAINLESS) offers us a tale that takes in both ends of the spectrum, THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM, a tale that spans the aristocracy, music halls and slums of London in the hunt for a brutal serial killer and to avoid the execution of an innocent woman.
London is reeling from a series of brutal murders, killing so ghastly people can’t believe a human could have committed them. Talk on the street blames them on a Golem, a creature from Jewish folklore. Inspector Kildare (Bill Nighy, UNDERWORLD, SHAUN OF THE DEAD) is assigned to the case. An inscription at the latest crime scene leads to a list of four suspects, one of which has just died, allegedly poisoned by his wife Lizzie (Olivia Cooke BATES MOTEL). Believing she may have had very good reason for what she is accused of he races the clock to solve the case and save her from the gallows. This is shown with flashbacks to Lizzie’s life as we see what has brought her to this situation.
The script by Jane Goldman (KICK ASS, THE WOMAN IN BLACK) from Peter Ackroyd’s novel is wonderful, mixing authentic detail and the occasional historical figure such as Karl Marx and novelist George Gissing into a twisting web of suspicions, suspects and very bloody murder. All of this is set in a wonderfully recreated period setting, done as only the British can. But this isn’t some dry BBC type period piece, with it’s plot twists and violence it has as much in common with giallos as more serious fare. At times it reminded me of Bob Clark’s unjustly forgotten MURDER BY DECREE in that regard, hopefully it won’t get overlooked like it did.
On the minus side, THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM runs a bit long at 148 minutes, very few films need that kind of length and this really isn’t one of them. There various subplots and back stories are all interesting but some of the less essential ones could have been trimmed. That might also have made some of the social commentary a little less heavy handed at times. The points it makes are all valid, but a lighter touch in a few places would have been appreciated.
THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM will be in theaters and available on VOD and digital HD on September 8, 2017. It’s not without it’s flaws but it’s an enjoyable film that should hold the viewer’s attention.