The Limehouse Golem : On the surface, The Limehouse Golem might appear to be another over-stylized take on the gothic horror genre, but the film directed by Juan Carlos Medina forges its own identity with tantalizing twists. The plot centers on Scotland Yard detective John Kildare (Bill Nighy) as he tries to prove the innocence of actress Lizzie Cree (Olivia Cooke) who is accused of killing her husband. At the same time, an unknown murderer dubbed “the Limehouse Golem” stalks the streets of 19th-century London looking for another victim.
The Performance Begins: The setting introduced in the film is a very bleak and decrepit borough ideal for mysterious villains on the prowl for unsuspecting Londoners. The cinematography in The Limehouse Golem is elegantly distinct and rich in flamboyant gloom. There is a stylish juxtaposition between the imagery of fog-lined wharfs to the grand music hall where each shot comes alive through warm lighting and festive performances. The art direction for the film appears to have taken cues from the likes of Guillermo del Toro and Tim Burton’s decadent visuals, as each set is intricately decorated with antiquated set pieces and a coordinating color palette.
A Bloody Intermission: The heart of The Limehouse Golem lies in its bizarre storyline that is just as entertaining as it is macabre. The Limehouse Golem is given the ruthless reputation of being a killer with an inclination of committing acts so brutal and morbid that it seems not to be the work of a human at all. Hence, John Kildare’s search begins as he speculates and interrogates several suspects who play key components to the plot, to see if they could possibly be the notorious killer. The visual slayings depicted in the film are not too over-the-top but still give the movie an essence of horror that goes well beyond cheap bloodbaths and jump scares. There is also a thrilling element of mystery continually forming the basis of the narrative in a refreshing turn of events that might surprise the casual viewer.
The Grand Finale: The Limehouse Golem, to put simply, is a smart film. The script is never too melodramatic even when dealing with the sensationalized penny dreadful-esque content, providing a sincerely enthralling mystery that is neither predictable nor impossible in its reveal. The acting is also dynamic and versatile for a story as layered as the one being presented—notably the performance given by Douglas Booth, who plays the famed comedian/actor Dan Leno. His range and delivery exude a magnetic charm that will make viewers automatically gravitate toward him during essential scenes (even while donning a dress and wig for a whimsical musical number).
A richly spun whodunit tale that unravels with the swiftness of a blade, The Limehouse Golem seamlessly merges Victorian romanticism and the grimness of innocent blood spilled.
Related: What's the story behind The Limehouse Golem?
Check out our interview with The Limehouse Golem's Director Juan Carlos Medina
The film The Limehouse Golem is featured on Borrowing Tape's Best Films of 2016 list.
Watch The Limehouse Golem on iTunes