From its opening shots of stunning 3D matte paintings depicting a rooftop shot of 1888 London (created by Johnny Bones) to its end-credits stinger, director Jonathan Martin’s short film Creatures of Whitechapel is a breathtaking marvel. This U.K./U.S. coproduction combines legendary Victorian era characters, steampunk-style practical effects, and a loving nod to Hammer Film Productions’ creature features.
Cowritten by Jonathan and Rebecca Martin, Creatures of Whitechapel tells the tale of Victor Frankenstein’s (Barrett Ogden) search for the elusive element needed to bring his female creation (Victoria Halloran) to life. His assistant Igor (Carlee Baker) follows his commands, even though she is disgusted when she sees him engage in physical pleasure with the nonconscious creature. Doctor Pretorius (Rick Macy) has a keen interest in the proceedings. Meanwhile, London is terrified by a string of killings attributed to the mysterious Jack the Ripper. Mary Kelly (Jillian Joy) and Catherine Eddowes (Crystal Udy) are two prostitutes who cross the path of that infamous serial killer. It would be unfair to future viewers to give away any more details about what happens in the short, but suffice it to say that blood flows freely, jealousy and madness run rampant, and shocking twists on beloved horror characters rule the night.
Jonathan Martin directs Creatures of Whitechapel splendidly, maintaining order in a frenzied story that plays with perversity and dark humor without going overboard into camp territory. The cast is well up to the task, including Carlee Baker bringing an underlying humanity to the leering, growling Igor, and Barrett Ogden giving a perfect level of intensity to his Victor Frankenstein. Jillian Joy is delightful in her turn as Mary Kelly, Rick Macy gives a menacing edge to his Doctor Pretorius, Crystal Udy looks like she stepped straight out of a Hammer classic in her portrayal of Catherine Eddowes, and Reeve Boyd gives a solid, if brief, performance as a potential suitor of Mary.
Creatures of Whitechapel has a rich color palette that ranges from vivid to garish, with some scenes bathed in blue and others in deep red. The framing is outstanding and the overall look is gorgeous. Cinematographer Jason Ball captures everything splendidly. Gerrit Wunder’s score is exciting. The special effects, visual effects, period costumes, and set design – complete with a laboratory equipped with a seemingly endless supply of large electrical switches – are all first-rate.
Jonathan Martin and his team have created a thrilling, fun take on gothic horror legends that combines unique new voices with an homage to Hammer Film Productions. Creatures of Whitechapel is in the very early stages of its film festival run and I highly recommend it as a must-see when it plays near you.
Creatures of Whitechapel: (4.5 / 5)