DIRECTOR: Juan Carlos Medina
WRITER: Jane Goldman
Inspector John Kildare has been assigned to a case where a series of brutal murders have rocked Victorian London. The grisly murders are believed to be the work of the Golem. John Kildare with his fellow inspector believes that the killer may be the dead husband of a woman who has been accused of his murder. Together, they must crack the case before more murders take place.
When I sat down to watch The Limehouse Golem, I had no idea what to expect. I kept seeing it pop up on lists of horror movies released this year. Not watching the trailer, I honestly thought the film was a costume drama based on the posters that I had seen online. While the promotional campaign was moody, I still didn't click that this movie was a horror. So I was never really interested in watching it. I decided to dive in after several horror movie podcasts talked about it and I was left pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the film.
After watching The Limehouse Golem. I got a very similar vibe from this movie as I did with From Hell starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham. The film is set just before Jack The Ripper started his gruesome killing spree that led to him being the most notorious serial killer ever to walk the streets of London. So with only several years between the events in this film and his reign of Jack The Ripper. The look and setting of the two films, both feel very similar to each other. I couldn't help but make comparisons between these films.
The entire mystery at the heart of the film is hit and miss for me. It's where the film ultimately loses points. It feels weird to say that a movie has so much going on when it comes to all of the characters and red-herrings yet still feels like it doesn't amount to much at all. The plot spends so much time switching between the backstory of our central female character and the acting troupe that she has joined while littering the story with side characters who may be the potential killer that it all becomes a bit of a mess. They are trying to juggle so many elements that they end up dropping the ball.
When it comes to the eventual reveal of the identity of the Golem, it's not much of a shock. I found it to be rather predictable. They've spent so much of the running time trying to push the audience in the direction of one character while screaming about the innocence of another that we sort of guess early on that the killer will, in fact, be the one that our inspector has believed to be innocent all along. It's not exactly a big surprise when the killer reveals themselves to be the homicidal maniac. It's a rather gruesome flashback scene that affords the film a ton of brutal gore moments.
Another element of the movie that I think people will have problems with is the entire middle section of the film. The Limehouse Golem, for the most part, is incredibly slow burn. While the movie is littered with gruesome kills. The story feels like it's plodding for a large chunk of the movie. That's not to say that it's a terrible film as it has a lot of other elements going for it that drag the movie across the line. It just feels rather weighed down at times by its pacing. Pacing and a predictable twist sort of lose the film points for me.
Now we come to the good things of The Limehouse Golem. The movie is fantastically acted. The entire cast is exceptional. Bill Nighy as our chief inspector is excellent. It's Olivia Cooke who indeed gets to shine in the film. This is Olivia Cooke as we've never seen her before. I thought she looked like she had an absolute blast, getting to really cut loose in the role. Douglas Booth who rounds out the main cast is also great. They have given him a snaggletooth and uglied him up for the role. I loved how much fun he looked like he was having in drag.
Visually the film is fantastic. Like From Hell, they capture turn of the century Victorian London perfectly. While not as dirty looking and filthy as they made it appear in From Hell. In The Limehouse Golem, they really nail the setting. It feels like that period of time. You have to admire a production crew that can make you feel like you've been transported back to a time such as the late eighteen hundreds. I feel that the budget would've been relatively high and they throw every ounce of it on getting the look of the period right.
Lastly, we come to the gore and violence. Don't be put off by the rather bland looking poster for The Limehouse Golem. Don't go into this movie expecting some English-y Midsommer Murders type of bloodless mystery. This is an incredibly dark and insanely violent movie. I was shocked at how far they managed to push the gore in this film. If you want to see throat slashings, disembowelments, decapitations, and a castration, you won't be disappointed by the gruesome gore on display here.
DEATH TOLL: 15
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A man is found dead in bed from poisoning.
- A man's severed penis is found in a book.
- Two women are hung from the gallows.
- A woman's throat is sliced, and she is decapitated with a saw.
- A woman dies on her deathbed.
- The killer kicks a dwarf down a flight of stairs.
- A man is suffocated with a pillow.
- A man and woman's throat is slashed.
- Two bodies are found with their mouth split open.
- A woman is repeatedly stabbed, disembowelled, and her eyes are cut out.
- A prostitute has her tongue cut out, and she's strung up to a wall.
- A man's head is bashed in, and he is disembowelled.
- Two children are murdered off-screen.
While The Limehouse Golem suffers from a plodding pace and a predictable mystery. I still found the film to be somewhat enjoyable. The story manages to rise above being just another mediocre serial killer flick with incredible gore, a gorgeous production, as well as a committed cast. The movie feels very similar to From Hell in both tone and the violence, and that's never a bad thing. An above average horror tale of Victorian London terrified by a sadistic killer.