The Limehouse Golem Blu-ray Review
"Few would think a woman capable of such artistry."
The Limehouse Golem delivers a surprisingly well-structured horror-tinged Victorian murder mystery.It's a well-acted and compellingly-told feature touched only by the sad fact that it was originally designed to be a lead for the late, great, Alan Rickman, who took ill partway into the production back in late 2015. Screenwriter Jane Goldman (who worked on most of Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman and X-Men movies, but also wrote the scripts for the more horror-themed Miss Peregrine and, perhaps most comparably, The Woman in Black) impressively adapts Peter Ackroyd's 1994 novel in non-linear fashion both for protagonist and antagonist, offering a refreshingly female-centric tale within a tale within a tale, with a serial killer on the loose in Victorian London providing an interconnected backdrop for the complex trial of a stage-famous widow accused of murdering her playwright husband.The ever-reliable Bill Nighy steps into the role Rickman was originally cast in, as the beleaguered Scotland Yard investigator tasked with unraveling the dual-mystery, and Nighy is - for the most part - a strong choice, only occasionally tainted by the fact that these days he sometimes sends up his own particular acting style (ironically a pivotal component of his role in Their Finest). There's able support from Douglas Booth (Jupiter Ascending) and Daniel Mays (Rogue One) but it's really Olivia Cooke's film, with her flashback story compelling, and her range impressive off the back of strong work in Bates Motel. A solid English-language debut from director Juan Carlos Medina, it's a rich and well-crafted character-driver piece delivered by a decent cast off a strong screenplay.
Picture QualityThe Limehouse Golem comes to UK shores courtesy of Lionsgate, on a Region B-locked Blu-ray, afforded a rich 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen, which celebrates the shadow-bathed cinematic style, itself belying the production's surprisingly tiny budget (the equivalent of a couple of episodes of Star Trek: Discovery).
A rich and faithful presentation of the film's visuals
Detail gives rich texture and nuance to the piece, picking up on the minutiae of the elaborate sets and costumes, highlighting the crags and lines on older cast members, and the wisps of hair out of place. The Victorian sets are bathed in an appropriately misty haze, and the picture has a classic look befitting of the period style. The sepia-tinged stage highlights, and colder, blue-tinged exteriors don't betray the natural tones, with the former still affording plenty of room for primary vibrancy, whilst the latter delivers strong and largely unimpeachable blacks. Perhaps stylistically the film was never going to be ideal demo material, but it's a rich and faithful presentation nonetheless.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a surprisingly engaging offering, sweeping you along largely courtesy of the suitably effective score from Johan Soderqvist which, at its heights, pays somewhat derivative but still diverting tribute to the melancholy style of Morricone.
A surprisingly heady audio affair
Dialogue is offered up with clarity and coherence throughout, afforded room to breathe through largely dominating the frontal array where appropriate, whilst the effects - admittedly more theatrical for the stage pieces - are largely limited to environmental flourishes with nothing strikingly bombastic, although the rib-splaying crunch of a particularly gruesome bit of butchery, some neck snaps, a few fast carriage-rides, the bustle of both the Victorian stage crowds and the busy streets give it some distinct atmospheric weight. It's a surprisingly heady affair, adding claustrophobic intensity to the flashbacks, and driven by a hauntingly effective albeit not always desperately inspired score.
ExtrasAll we get is an 8-minute, fluffy, clip-laden Featurette affording minimal glimpses behind the production and soundbites from the cast and crew.
Blu-ray VerdictA well-crafted character-driver piece delivered by a decent cast off a strong screenplay
Lionsgate's Region B-locked Blu-ray release of The Limehouse Golem delivers the atmospheric Victorian horror mystery with rich video and engaging audio and, even with little in the way of extras, it's a solid release for fans.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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