In Jewish folklore, a Golem is a being created, magically, from inanimate matter, usually clay or mud. In this case, it is the name given to a serial killer in ye olde London.
Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Dad’s Army) plays a detective in Scotland Yard, one who has been overlooked due to rumours he likes men, rather than women.
He believes he is being setup as a scapegoat by The Yard who are struggling to make head nor tale of the murders, random as they appear.
Daniel Mays (Rogue One, Atonement) plays the bobby with knowledge of Limehouse (an area of London) who is assigned to help Nighy in his search of the murderer.
Following a lead, Nighy and Mays find a book in the library, seemingly a diary of the murderer. The previous people to take the book out; Sam Reid (’71, The Railway Man), Henry Goodman (Notting Hill, Avengers: Age Of Ultron) and Morgan Watkins (Kingsman, Wild Bill) instantly become prime suspects.
Reid was recently found dead in his home, his wife Olivia Cooke (Me And Earl And The Dying Girl, Bates Motel (TV)) stands accused of his murder.
She is a former dancehall star under the wing of man of the moment Douglas Booth (Jupiter Ascending, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies) who is also a suspect as the Golem.
It’s unclear, as things go on, whether Nighy is interested in helping catch the murderer or freeing Cooke who he believes is innocent.
For reasons best known to others, The Limehouse Golem is down as a horror film. I’m here to tell you it isn’t a horror, it’s not really a thriller. It’s a who-dunnit with some gore thrown in and the occasional ‘scary’ voice.
Any suspect could be the killer, we see each murder performed by each suspect in flashback form in their own voice. This may be where the ‘horror’ tag comes from, the slowed down, evil sounding voice they read the diary in.
The thing with this is, you know none of them can be, that would be too obvious. So you’re left with just one suspect…after that, there just isn’t enough to grab you, the viewer, and keep you interested.
Writer Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, Kingsman) and director Juan Carlos Medina (Painless) have written from Peter Ackroyd’s novel, which I haven’t read, and made something slow that jitters about from thread to thread.
The fingers all point so obviously at who and why that, by the time we creak up to the reveal, there are no surprises.
I wanted to like The Limehouse Golem when I saw the trailer. I think Bill Nighy is brilliant and he is good in this, but it’s not enough to save it as it meanders through the darkness.