Getting to the dark underbelly of Victorian London has always made for entertaining cinema, and in his new gothic mystery, director Juan Carlos Medina borrows heavily from similarly bleak and grimy movies The Woman In Black and From Hell.
Bill Nighy plays Detective Kildare of Scotland Yard, a man given the unenviable task of catching The Golem, a serial killer terrorising 1880s London. A young actress (Olivia Cooke) is tied circumstantially to the murders, but Kildare’s investigation leads him to all kinds of shocking revelations and grisly crime scenes.
Nighy is wonderful in the lead role, looking every inch as if he’s just teleported from the 1800s. He elegantly ties together the numerous plot strands, and has a nice repartee with Daniel Mays as the Watson to his Sherlock. Cooke benefits from screenwriter Jane Goldman, who imbues each line with foggy subtext, giving the star plenty to chew on. Another revelation is Douglas Boothe as Cooke’s troupe leader, who acts as an introduction to the more salacious side of Victorian London.
At times the twists become rather overbearing (it’s never quite clear why real life figures such as Karl Marx have to be brought into the investigation), but an excellent cast keeps this rickety period ship on course to its entertaining destination.