THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM (2016) Reviews and overview

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‘Before the Ripper, fear had another name.’

The Limehouse Golem is a 2016 British horror thriller film directed by Juan Carlos Medina (Painless aka Insensibles; Rage) from a screenplay by Jane Goldman (The Woman in Black, 2012).

The film, an adaptation of Peter Ackroyd’s 1994 murder mystery novel Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem, stars Olivia Cooke, Bill Nighy, and Douglas Booth

A serial killer is plaguing the streets of London. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Cree (Olivia Cooke), a former music hall performer, is charged with the murder of her husband.

Detective Kildare (Bill Nighy) must tackle both these cases, learning about Elizabeth’s strange life, her relationship with fellow performer Dan Leno (Douglas Booth), and the beliefs of the locals of Limehouse that a fabled Yiddish monster is to blame for the killings…

“This multilayered, Ripperesque film is full of tense moments, eerie cliffhangers and jarring revelations. The acting and visual presentation are quite impressive. Mystery or no mystery, it’s an absolute perfect pick for the horror freak in all of us…” Addicted to Horror Movies

” …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…” Beneath the Underground

” …while all of this thematic resonance and social commentary adds some tremendous meat to the story, the bones of The Limehouse Golem remain the film’s central mystery, and in the hands of Goldman and Medina it’s a tremendously compelling one. The story unravels as it goes on, and even if you can guess who the Golem might be, it doesn’t detract from its impact.” Collider

“It’s only a minor shame that the movie could make more out of its story, as it still deserves applause on multiple levels. While the performances won’t rank at the top of their respective all-time lists, the cast is full of actors who are always engaging no matter the movie.  And whether the film meets personal preferences for a murder mystery or not, it nevertheless earns an A grade for achieving maximum Victorian villainy on a minimum movie budget.” Culture Crypt

The Limehouse Golem is a fast-moving horror-cum-panto, nicely staged, all fog and darkness, with the melodrama and off-colour humour of the music-hall itself. And it has a star turn: 22-year-old Olivia Cooke, originally from Manchester, so magnetic and charming as Elizabeth Cree, a girl who has hauled herself out of desperate poverty on to the stage she loves. She’s enchanting.” Evening Standard

Overall, The Limehouse Golem works as a watchable Gothic chiller on the strength of the cast and its visuals but thanks to the shallow, first draft styling of the script it doesn’t have the sense of danger or drama that such a story really needs to stand up against the likes of From Hell or Edge of Sanity as a Victorian era horror story that you’d be likely to return to very often.” Flickering Myth

“Lurid beheadings aside, this unlikely feminist Jack the Ripper-esque thriller cleverly unpicks late-Victorian London’s social strictures.” Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian

“The strong points of The Limehouse Golem are the sumptuous costumes and set design, the atmosphere of Jack the Ripper-ish dread, and the beautiful-ness of many of the central cast. The narrative itself is stale, but it’s wrapped in pretty, shiny paper with a nice bow; so if you like shiny things (and who doesn’t?), it may be worth a watch.” Horror Talk

“There are a lot of twists and turns in the story, with some unexpected ‘surprises’ saved for the closing scenes of the film. Great performance by actors is worth seeing on the big screen if you don’t let Olivia’s ever-changing accent – from cockney to perfectly spoken aristocratic English and back – distract yourself from the plot.” Ikon London Magazine

“The film itself is structured as if it is an especially melodramatic and far-fetched music hall morality play. It plays on our voyeurism […] Some of the Grand Guignol shock tactics are a little silly, but you can’t quibble that The Limehouse Golem is wildly over the top. That’s precisely what it is meant to be – and what gives the drama such a kick.” Independent

“It feels inappropriate to describe a film which features prominent, gruesome displays of, truly sickening, murders as good fun, yet that’s essentially what it is. A Rickman-led version of the film may have been very different, but here Nighy brings a warmth of character and sense of humour to the grim plot, aided by a script of surprising comic capability.” The Film Blog

” …the murder scenes are suitably grisly, but they’re never actually scary, and there’s no sense of the widespread fear the Golem is supposedly generating, or any real threat for the main characters. What’s more, in addition to short-changing the horror and suspense aspects, the script also fails to provide a satisfying mystery, since the identity of the Golem is eminently guessable from about the halfway mark.” Nerdly

“Medina, a neophyte director, doesn’t seem to know how to translate his interest in Goldman and Ackroyd’s source material into a compelling, stylish thriller. In its present state, The Limehouse Golem is as inessential as an inferior serial from Jeremy Brett’s otherwise sterling run of 1980s Sherlock Holmes TV adaptations.”

“This is no quaint and respectful BBC costume drama. Medina seamlessly mixes this Victorian-era tale with an eye for the properly gruesome normally found in Giallo-style film, while at the same time finding the style of the theatre of the era, in which exagerration and pantomime were the norm.” Screen Anarchy

Cast and characters:

  • Douglas Booth … Dan Leno – Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
  • Olivia Cooke … Lizzie Cree – Bates Motel; Ouija; The Quiet Ones
  • Sam Reid … John Cree
  • María Valverde … Aveline Ortega
  • Daniel Mays … George Flood
  • Bill Nighy … John Kildare – I, Frankenstein; Underworld: Rise of the Lycans; Shaun of the Dead
  • Peter Sullivan … Inspector Roberts
  • Michael Jenn … News Reporter
  • Daniel Cerqueira … Evening Post Reporter
  • Patrick Durham … Elderly Man
  • Louisa-May Parker … Mrs. Gerrard
  • Adam Brown … Mr. Gerrard
  • Nicholas Woodeson … Toby Dosett
  • Paul Ritter … Augustus Rowley
  • Mark Tandy … Judge
  • David Bamber … Mr. Greatorex
  • Amelia Crouch … Young Lizzie
  • Neal Barry … Fisherman
  • Clive Brunt … Charlie
  • Keeley Forsyth … Lizzie’s Mother
  • Levi Heaton … Sarah Martin
  • Josef Davies … Ticket Boy
  • Eddie Marsan … Uncle – The World’s End; Jack the Giant Killer
  • Graham Hughes … Little Victor
  • Henry Goodman … Karl Marx
  • Lauren Kinsella … Gaelic Girl
  • Siobhán Cullen … Sister Mary
  • Anita Breheny … Jane Quig
  • Joseph Palmer … Autograph Fan
  • Roger Morlidge … Stagehand
  • Edythe Woolley … Nell Gissing
  • Morgan Watkins … George Gissing
  • Christina Tam … Den Proprietor
  • Damien Thomas … Solomon Weil – Grave TalesTwins of Evil; Journey to the Unknown
  • Oliver Britten … Bluebead & Uncle
  • Clive Russell … Prison Warden
  • Ben Moor … Hansom Cab Driver
  • Simon Meacock … Prison Guard
  • Charlie May-Clark … Annie Ratcliffe Highway Maid
  • Paul Antony-Barber … Chief of Police

Filming locations:

Principal photography began in October 2015 in West Yorkshire, with filming taking place in locations such as Leeds and Keighley. Filming also took place in Deansgate, Manchester.

Film Facts:

Alan Rickman was originally cast as Inspector Kildare but had to leave the production due to declining health after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

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