Watch This: The Limehouse Golem (2016)
By Cassandra Litten
The Limehouse Golem (2016)
Dir. Juan Carlos Medina
Written by Jane Goldman, based on the novel by Peter Ackroyd
The Limehouse Golem creates a lushly dark world filled with moments of wide-eyed, genuine horror. Bill Nighy delivers a truly strong performance as the methodical Scotland Yard Inspector Kildare, tasked with uncovering the truth behind the brutal, sadistic murders committed by the Limehouse Golem. A serial killer in the same vein as real-life Jack the Ripper, The Limehouse Golem leaves taunting messages written in the blood of the murdered for the police at the crime scenes and is so adept at blending in, no one has the faintest idea who the killer might be.
We meet Lizzie Cree (played to near-perfection by Olivia Cooke) following the death of her husband, John. Evidence at the scene points to John having been poisoned and the statement of their maid, Aveline Ortega (played by María Valverde) points directly to Lizzie as the culprit. When Inspector Kildare links John Cree with The Golem, the investigation becomes entwined with Lizzie. Her eyes bright with emotion and determination, she captivates the Inspector and the audience with the story of her life, told from her prison cell as she awaits execution -- a child born out of wedlock, abused by every man she met, to an accomplished stage actress stuck in a loveless marriage. Inspector Kildare comes to rely on the information Lizzie gives to not only solve the case of The Limehouse Golem, but to free her of her fate.
“The line between comedy and tragedy is a fine one,” she tells him.
There are moments in this film that shouldn’t work in the brilliant way that they do. The Golem’s makeshift diary allows Inspector Kildare to get a closer look into the mind of the killer and gives every suspect, and the actor who plays them, the chance for a chilling monologue. The voice of The Golem, no matter which suspect it is, is tinged by a deep, reverberating, almost demonic tone that made me feel as though they were sitting right next to me.
These fragments of storytelling would usually be over-the-top dramatic, to the point of being cheesy in any other film, but the obvious love and respect that director Juan Carlos Medina and writer Jane Goldman had for this story made the individual elements, and a gorgeously eerie score from Johan Söderqvist, combine into something horrifyingly beautiful.
Aesthetically, tonally and technically, this film is as frightening as it is captivating.