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Film Review: The Limehouse Golem

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The Limehouse Golem is a bloody mystery that takes our expectations and turns them on its head.

 

Set on a backdrop of the grittiness and gory history of the Victorian East End, there is already a sense that there are secrets in the shadows and this film uses those preconceived ideas to envelop the mystery in darkness and blood in both the writing and the cinematography.

You have the mystery of the Limehouse Golem – a brutal serial killer who has no remorse and no set pattern of who his victims should be – that takes centre stage, as you would guess from the title. But alongside that you also have the Cree family – husband poisoned by his wife, for malicious reasons or, as the investigation shows, to stop a killer?

The suspects and their connections to the murders are shown in a unique way that is fascinating to watch. There are four suspects – three being popular intellects of the time – and as each is encountered, they are placed in the position of the Golem himself, but with faded edges, as if what you’re seeing isn’t quite clear. Voices are overlaid to make a monstrous blend, with the voice that is most prominent being the current suspect.

With these scenes standing out, that doesn’t take away from the overall skill that went into the direction and cinematography of The Limehouse Golem. Juan Carlos Medina, our director, shows such skill in how he manages to hide the answers to the mysteries just out of sight of the camera, even though you already believe you have the answers. It makes for a dramatic and intense viewing experience.

The acting is spot on throughout this piece. Bill Nighy takes on the role of the aged detective, set up as a scapegoat for the ire of the public, and it is his passion to see this crime solved that keeps the story moving. Although no spoilers will be revealed – there is a part towards the end where you feel the rawness of Nighy's performance and remember how great an actor he actually is.

Olivia Cooke plays the husband poisoner, Lizzie Cree, and brings to life this fantastic female lead who built herself up from the docks to the stage, to a rich man’s wife. She puts such honest emotion into her performance and, given the nature of parts of that character’s life, that was extremely important to give Lizzie Cree this sense of life that is sorely needed.

Roles such as Dan Leno, played by Douglas Booth, and Uncle, by Eddie Marson, and Josh Cree, the deceased suspect himself, played by Sam Reid, add to this fantastic world of vice and the strange place that exists during a time where there was a less than positive views of the stage. And then you have characters like George Flood, played by Daniel Mays, who is almost like the audience’s bridge into the world.

This cast was brilliant and brought the suspenseful and dramatic script of Jane Goldman (and the original novel by Peter Ackroyd) to a place of prestige.

There was little that can be criticised, although pointing out the amount of gore and blood is important if you’re the squeamish type. There is a lot of blood. A lot of brutal details on murders and sexual assaults and mutilation, some of which is blatantly there for you to see.

The Limehouse Golem is a brilliantly gore-filled murder mystery with a fantastic cast and beautifully horrific camera direction. It is well worth a watch.

The Limehouse Golem is due to be released on 1st September 2017, distributed by Lionsgate.

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