Hammer’s DOCTOR JEKYLL Is Fun, Yet Flawed

February 28, 2024

Written by Joshua Scafidi


It’s a Hammer film, for better and worse.

A modern reimagining of Louis Stevenson’s classic novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Hammer’s DOCTOR JEKYLL manages to entertain, but fails to stick the perfect landing. Spoilers follow. I’ll try to keep them light.

Writers: Dan Kelly-Mulhern/Robert Louis Stevenson

Director: Joe Stephenson

Cast: Eddie Izzard, Scott Chambers, Lindsay Duncan, Simon Callow, Jonathan Hyde, Morgan Watkins, Robyn Cara

Run Time: 89 Mins

The film is an interesting take on the well-known Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dynamic. Eddie Izzard plays our titular character, Dr. Nina Jekyll. A  pharmaceutical tycoon who’s made a fortune in the business. When scandal hits, it’s all placed in immediate jeopardy.

The idea of an evil pharmaceutical mogul is anything but new, but it works in this setting. Paced well, and never too grandiose, the story manages to keep your attention, feeding you just enough to keep you invested, without giving everything away too early. It’s intriguing, which is not easy to do with a story so familiar, and has its own little twists, and surprises. It’s not ground breaking, but an intimate retelling of a classic favorite.

Dr. Nina Jekyll is a curiosity, an eccentric enigma who owns it very well. Eddie succeeds in keeping this larger than life character mostly grounded, never too outlandish, or cartoonish. “Excellence incarnate, and demands the same of others,” is how they are described in the film, and Eddie brings that obsession to life.

Scott Chambers plays Rob, who comes to work a cushy, life changing gig for Dr. Jekyll. He has an innocent, childish naivety about him. Scott does well in scenes where he is hiding from Dr. Jekyll, forecasting a feeling of tension through only his body movements, and eyes. He makes you want to like this kid, even though he’s a bit of a weasel.

Lyndsey Duncan is phenomenal as Nina Jekyll’s assistant/housekeeper. Think of any movie where a housekeeper, assistant, or nanny ominously speaks to the main character upon their arrival. That’s her character, but instead of coming off as a cliché, she brings in a commanding presence right from the start. A definite stand out in the film. She delivers each of her lines with perfect gravitas, stealing every scene she’s in.

Eddie and Scott have some great scenes together, with naturally flowing dialogue. Especially about halfway through, when things start to take a darker turn. There’s a scene of them playing chess together by the fire that I thought really stood out. The final reveal, and twist are handled a bit oddly, though. I enjoyed the film, but most of the third act is messy and confusing, jumbled by strange camera angles that could have worked, if held just a bit more steadily. The ending is pretty cool, once you get there. Despite the clutter.

There are some really amazing shots in the film, and it pulls off a gothic feel, with a modern day setting. In some scenes, the lighting is just a bit darker than I would have liked, but not to the point where I couldn’t see.

Overall, a decently entertaining film, but robbed of greatness by its clunky third act. It does get props for bringing some unique ideas to an old and beloved classic. Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde fans might want to put this on their radar. DOCTOR JEKYLL will be available for DIGITAL DOWNLOAD on March 11th!




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