Amidst the unusual big releases of this September, such as the brand new It, there are a few quite pieces coming out which I have been looking forward to some time. Where I currently live in London, the Tube (subway or metro for international readers) is littered with film posters of much smaller budget films. Notable due to its East London name, The Limehouse Golem is one such tale that really got me excited.
Our story begins with Bill Nighy who is a detective who has spent many years working thefts and robberies due to certain rumours. The lead detective into a case of murders, that the press have dubbed The Limehouse Golem Murders, hands off the case to Nighy after the most recent case. Concurrently, a wife has been arrested on the suspicion of the murder of her husband and, through a series of circumstances, the case appears linked to that of the Golem so Nighy sets about investigating the killings to set the young lady free.
The setting and tone are the real strengths of this movie. There is something about Victorian London that just invokes a sense of the macabre with very little effort and that is the case here. Every scene is suitably dark and shrouded in mystery and that really lends itself to the case at hand. As the case progresses, the music halls of London become more and more important and they create a very unsettling atmosphere with the bizarre folk who both work and attend them. The character of Dan Leno, a key one in the story, is a particular culprit of providing that freakish atmosphere. Douglas Booth does great work in this role.
The true star of the movie, in my mind, was easily Bill Nighy. He fits the part remarkably well and better than I imagined from the hit-and-miss trailers. He plays a sympathetic, yet determined, older detective and you become convinced that only he has the skill and tenacity to track down the murderer. Out of all the cast, he is the most believable and he has a great dynamic with the accused wife, played by Olivia Cooke.
The plot worked for me overall, but I had some issues with the way the story was delivered. At times, it came to a bit of a halt with various flashbacks that lead up to or depict the killings, but some of those did work. Furthermore, I found myself able to predict the result of the film although whether this was from mediocre writing or lucky guesswork from me is hard to say. The film handles the weight of the story well and its ending fits the macabre tone it establishes so well.
A fascinating blend of fact and fiction, The Limehouse Golem is dark and suspenseful with great work from its leads. The story loses its way a few times which perhaps prevents the story being truly compelling. Still, it is a great murder mystery at the end of it all. Get watching!