The Limehouse Golem 06.08.17
Was it the pint of Heineken – £3.30 at the stylish Fountain pub – that made me feel dizzy through this film? The Limehouse Golem is a stylish whodunnit horror, channelling Victorian London and a Jack-the-Ripper ambience. Yet the film itself left me unmoved. I think I understood the ending, and don't care much in hindsight whether I did or not.It could be that none of the characters are fleshed out. Take Bill Nighy's detective, whom it's suggested halfway through that he's 'not the marrying kind.' This is as deep as the film gets, in terms of characterisation and the LGBT vibe it tries to mine half-heartedly and unconvincingly. The female lead and main suspect, played by Olivia Cooke, never gives us more than the façade of keeping cards to her chest. The murdered husband is shown as a rogue and therefore nothing to mourn for. In the background are grotesques who contribute to the music hall melange: over-acted pantomime without tension, with audiences who laugh at the unfunny slapstick humour. None of it affects, in the way that Lynch's Mullholland Drive (2002) managed to seduce us with the cabaret of Club Silencio. As for the characters, I think back to a favourite period film of mine, The Illusionist (2006), in which Edward Norton's magician Eisenstein, and the detective investigating him played by Paul Giamatti, become figures to root for. The Limehouse Golem is so much less a film than either of these examples, without either a story or characters in which to invest any energy. This is a shame, as the film's ingredients are tantalising, with a noirish city of twisted murders, and the suggestion of something monstrous, in a production spared no apparent expense. Indeed, watch it if you enjoy that particular Gothic darkness of Victorian London, but be aware this film is at best a curio of style over substance, and even the style becomes tiring after a while.