The Limehouse Golem

The Limehouse Golem is the best new film I’ve seen thus far this year. I will give no spoilers, save to say that this is a superb horror-thriller set in Victorian London, with Police Inspector John Kildare (Bill Nighy) trying to catch the titular Limehouse Golem (a Ripper-esque killer… or is it?).

No, rather than revealing any plot details I shall instead list what makes The Limehouse Golem special and a ‘must see’ on the Big Screen.

The source material: ‘The Limehouse Golem’ is based on an excellent novel called ‘Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem’ by Peter Ackroyd, which I’ve read. This is an excellent book to adapt into a motion picture. Ackroyd is one of the great British writers, a modern day Charles Dickens. These days he concentrates mainly on history books (I am reading his ‘London Under’, which is superb). When he writes fiction he does so with the research of a historian, and when he writes history, he does so with a novelist’s verve.

The script: a truly outstanding one by Jane Goldman, who did a grand job on Hammer’s adaptation of ‘The Woman in Black’ by Susan Hill. She deserves a BAFTA for her efforts here. She has also added a feminist element to the story, and makes you think deeply and ask yourself questions, hard ones. Such as, if we help people, are a person’s motives ever truly unselfish, or are we merely trying to satisfy our own wants? The theme of true motivations is writ large in Goldman’s script.

The performances: all first class, especially Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke, Maria Valverde, Douglas Booth and Eddie Marsan.

The direction of Juan Carlos Medina, like a cross between Guillermo Del Toro and Terence Fisher.

The look. It is very Hammer Horror, and I mean that as the greatest compliment; it brought to mind such films as ‘Hands of the Ripper’.

Finally as a whole, it’s a very organic entity – a piece of art, everything just right. Magical, shocking, funny, thought-provoking; it covers a dark rainbow of human emotions and it will stay with you long after you’ve left the cinema.

Steve Earles is author and co-author of numerous projects, including To End All Wars: The WWI Graphic Anthology, available summer 2014 (

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