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The Limehouse Golem (DVD Review)

The city of London is gripped with fear as a serial killer – dubbed The Limehouse Golem – is on the loose and leaving cryptic messages written in his victim’s blood. With few leads and increasing public pressure, Scotland Yard assigns the case to Inspector Kildare (Bill Nighy) – a seasoned detective with a troubled past and a sneaking suspicion he’s being set up to fail. Faced with a long list of suspects, including music hall star Dan Leno (Douglas Booth), Kildare must get help from a witness who has legal troubles of her own (Olivia Cooke), so he can stop the murders and bring the killer to justice.

Film 

There is a serial killer loosed on the streets of Victorian-era London. The killer is brutal yet discreet and has the usual moniker of The Limehouse Golem. The victims of the golem are not necessarily those of means — they may be of little means or no means — it matters not to the Golem. On the golem’s case is Inspector John Kildare (Bill Nighy). Kildare gets some assistance from an eyewitness to the golem’s acts named Lizzie Cree (Olivia Cooke). He also suspects several in the slayings including a well-known theater actor named Dan Leno (Douglas Booth). In Lizzie’s troubled case is that she has been arrested for the murder of her husband who has been poisoned and has subsequently died. She is innocent of these claims and Kildare will also try to clear her name while tracking down the vicious killer before it is too late.

Bill Nighy plays Kildare as a seasoned and weathered police officer well past his prime. The Limehouse Golem case falls on his head on purpose due to another inspector’s lack of interest. It’s a make it or break it type of case but since Kildare is the lead on it — it really doesn’t matter if it gets solved or not.

Olivia Cooke as Lizzie Cree plays her role with such a vulnerability that quickly turns to strength in a blink of an eye. She has had a troubled childhood and all she wishes is to write and become part of the theater troupes of London.

Douglas Booth looking like a splitting image of Ed Westwick is top dog at the local theatrical establishment as Dan Leno — a cross dressing jack-of-all-trades including mentor and keeper of those that have nowhere else to go. His troupe is filled with lost and troubled souls who may or may not be the killer. In this film, everyone is a suspect.

The Limehouse Golem was written by Jane Goldman (Kingsman 1 & 2, The Woman In Black) based on the novel by Peter Ackroyd. I was under no illusions that the film would be anything more than what I had seen in terms of trailer and marketing materials. It makes for a great double-header with From Hell or The Raven. Honestly, The Limehouse Golem may be the better film in the trifecta simply for its subtle, strong, and dynamic performances from our leads. I will honestly say that the final act is just masterful and I did not see it coming.

It really is a treat when a film like The Limehouse Golem comes through and shakes up complacency the way it did. First off, the three primary performances by our main cast are sensational. Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke, and Douglas Booth are fantastic. The Limehouse Golem is going on my Top-10 list of the year.

 

 

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-2

Resolution: 480p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: Contrast and sharpness levels are stable — there may be a boost here and there but it propels the visual aesthetic forward and isn’t just there just for the sake of it. It’s a rather clean image.

Depth: The depth is quite staggering and I could almost smell the stench of London’s filthy alleyways.

Black Levels: Black levels crush slightly due to the lower resolution, but that is to be expected and it never distracts. I am sure the Blu-ray looks better.

Color Reproduction: The Limehouse Golem has an awesome sepia tone-infused palette that envelops the film throughout most of its running time. I love the visual aesthetic of the film — it’s as if it was dipped in amber.

Flesh Tones: Everyone looks great, some may look a bit more polished due to their roles in the theater, but otherwise healthy.

Noise/Artifacts: The image was relatively clean and fee of noise and anomalies. It is a standard DVD after all.

 

 

 

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: The robust 5.1 soundtrack is near-reference quality for a DVD. It is dynamic and nuanced. You will be transported to the grimy Victorian streets of London.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer channel (LFE) is quite rumbly and only acts when it is called to do so — clearly as sign of proper mixing. It never rattles or distorts.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound channels are clean and discreet. There are many scenes that take place in a theater/cabaret-type of environment and you will be able to pick up on the voices in the background.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are clean and crisp — everything is understood accents and all.

 

Extras 

The extras are practically non-existent, but there are various tidbits of interesting information throughout. Everyone involved, especially the actors seem to be having great fun — Douglass Booth especially. Combined, I would say that the extras add up to just under 15-minutes, so it is rather lacking in that particular department.

  • The Making Of (SD)
  • The Cast (SD)
  • The Look (SD)
  • The Locations of The Limehouse Golem (SD)
  • Photo Gallery (SD)

 

Summary 

Consider me stunned and impressed by The Limehouse Golem — a terrific horror-thriller romp that leaves plenty to the imagination until that spectacular final act. Olivia Cooke and Douglass Booth deliver standout performances and Bill Nighy, well, there are no words, the man is great. The DVD looks and sounds as good as any of the better pressed DVDs out there. The special features are paltry but informative. The Limehouse Golem is highly recommended and one of the year’s best.

 

The Limehouse Golem is released

on DVD November 7th

ORDER NOW!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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