Film & TV

British Film Festival Review: The Limehouse Golem

A serial killer is on the loose in 19th century London and a link begins to appear between that & the case of a young woman on trial for murdering her husband.

A serial killer is on the loose in 19th century London and it’s up to an inexperienced detective to solve the case. But, as more evidence is uncovered, a link begins to appear between the brutal murders and the case of a young woman on trial for the murder of her husband and, in the end, nothing is what it seems.

London’s notorious Limehouse District is being intimidated by the truly gruesome and horrific killings of seemingly random innocent people by what the newspapers have dubbed “The Limehouse Golem”. Detective Kildare (Bill Nighy) is put on the case by Scotland Yard but also becomes involved with saving the life of young Lizzie Cree (Olivia Cooke) who is on trial for her husband’s murder. If found guilty, she will hang.

As the film progresses the two seemingly separate cases become strangely intertwined as Kildare uncovers bizarre connections between Lizzie’s life story and the unfolding investigation. As the tension builds, suspects come and go and an increasingly evil presence emerges behind the murders.

Director Juan Carlos Medina has created a fantastic period piece and crime thriller that melds the gruesome horror of Jack the Ripper with the mystery and determination of Sherlock Holmes within the murky depths of 19th century London.

Young actress Olivia Cooke outshines all as the young and innocent Lizzie whose entire life has been a fight against the deprivations of poverty and the forceful control of men. Cooke is entirely convincing as the determined innocent in a world of wickedness; she is bold and strong but carries the legacy of a harsh and frightening up-bringing.

Veteran actor Bill Nighy continues to impress in this role as the hard-working and determined detective who battles against his role as scapegoat for Scotland Yard, the unsympathetic press and the complications of this totally unpredictable investigation.

An honourable mention must go to Douglas Booth who totally encapsulates a role that, compared to his past roles as a mere love interest, is a complete 180. Booth enthrals the audience as Lizzie’s eccentric and over-the-top theatre friend and mentor, Dan Leno, who is renowned in London for his comedic pantomimes performed in outrageous female costumery. This role suggests that Booth deserves more challenging roles in the future.

The Limehouse Golem will keep you on the edge of your seat ‘til the very last second and then throw all that you thought you knew out the window.

A must for all murder mystery fans.

Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Twitter: @Georgie_xox

Rating out of 10:  7

The Limehouse Golem will screen again on 19 November only for the BBC First British Film Festival, which runs 3 – 23 November 2016 exclusively at the Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas.

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