New Review: The Limehouse Golem (2017)

Updated on November 20, 2017

Director: Juan Carlos Medina
Cast: Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke, Douglas Booth, María Valverde, Sam Reid, Daniel Mays, Henry Goodman, Eddie Marsan, Adam Brown

Nothing ruins a whodunit murder mystery more than knowing well in advance who actually dunit before the big reveal. Films like that rely on their sense of mystery to keep the audience engaged, but when you have everything figured out from the beginning, it becomes tedious watching the filmmakers use every trick in the book to try and throw you off. In the case of The Limehouse Golem, I was able to figure out who the mysterious title character was about, I’d say, 15 minutes in. The more tricks the film threw out to distract me, the more obvious it became.

Ah, but there have been those who argued that the movie is less about who the mysterious killer is and more about the troubling social politics of 1880s London. The detective in charge of the case is John Kildare (Bill Nighy), and he’s not very well-liked by others in his department because it’s rumored that he might be gay. One potential suspect in the Golem case is deceased playwright John Cree (Sam Reid), whose wife, celebrated stage actress Elizabeth Cree (Olivia Cooke), is on trial for poisoning him. Like many of her gender during that time, Elizabeth was horrifically abused by a hostile and patriarchal society, as we learn when she tells Kildare her tragic life story. Moved by compassion over her situation, Kildare sets out to prove that John Cree was the Golem, which he hopes would convince the courts to show her leniency for ridding the world of such a savage killer.

A truly terrific thriller might have been able to successfully mix the social commentary with scenes of gory horror, but in Jane Goldman’s screenplay (which is based on a 1994 novel by Peter Ackryod, unread by me), the mix is inconsistent and uneasy. One second, we get flashback scenes of people getting decapitated, mutilated, and eviscerated (the movie does not shy away from the gore), but then we cut to flashbacks detailing Elizabeth’s life story, and it feels like we’ve wondered into a completely different film. The movie does eventually tie the two threads together in the end, but it does so in a very unconvincing and unsatisfying way (and the final scene, involving a tragic accident with a stage prop, is just stupid). In the end, you’re thinking less on the social politics of that period in time and more on the confused and unfocused manner in which the movie plays out.

Aw, look at...what are their names again? o.O
Aw, look at...what are their names again? o.O

The movie marks the second feature film for director Juan Carlos Medina, and while I haven’t seen his first film (2012’s Painless), based on his work here, I’m not entirely sold on the guy. His choice to film the movie in dingy and dark grays and greens result in a film that looks more dirty than atmospheric. A dark visual look is certainly appropriate for a movie like this, and there are ways to do it right. I enjoyed the look of movies like 1999’s Sleepy Hollow, 2012’s The Raven, and, heck, even The Woman in Black movies. Those films were visually dark, but sumptuously atmospheric. The Limehouse Golem, on the other hand, just looks ugly. More than anything, I wanted to take a bottle of Windex to the screen.

Honestly, the best thing that can be said about the movie are the performances, some of which are surprisingly good. One of Kildare’s many suspects is famed philosopher Karl Marx (yes, that Karl Marx), and while you can count on one hand the number of scenes he’s in, Henry Goodman is quite good in the role. Douglas Booth is solid as Dan Leno, an actor who frequently dresses up like a woman, and who’s perhaps the only seemingly decent character in the film; Reid is truly nasty as the loathsome Mr. Cree; and Cooke turns in her best performance to date as the doomed Elizabeth Cree. Bill Nighy is fine but not terribly memorable as Kildare, although I’ve since learned that he wasn’t the first choice to play the role. It was originally supposed to go to Alan Rickman, but unfortunately, the actor died before he could be in the movie (the movie is dedicated to him). While he probably wouldn’t have saved the film, Rickman would have certainly brought more layers to the role than Nighy does.

Final Grade: * ½ (out of ****)

Not Rated, but would definitely be a hard R for strong bloody violence, disturbing images and themes, nudity, and sexual content

What did you think of this movie? :D

Cast your vote for The Limehouse Golem (2017)


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)