Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

A highly atmospheric, imaginatively filmed iteration

The Emmy-sweeping Sherlock television series, jointly produced by the BBC and WGBH Boston, successfully tweaks the tried-and-true Arthur Conan Doyle formula by setting the action in the present day. So far it has comprised three three-episode seasons as well as this special holiday one-off, aired January 1 of this year.

The episode stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the legendary “consulting detective” and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson. Both have taken home Emmys for their efforts, and the movie is spiced with their constant, quick-witted banter. Rupert Graves plays Inspector Lestrade, and Andrew Scott is suitably chilling as the arch-villain Moriarty. 

Apparently someone thought the one-off would work as a stand-alone theatrical release, and it does, mostly. Through some sort of time-travel device—I’m betting opium dreams—most of the action takes place in the original canon’s Victorian Era setting. Viewers not familiar with the TV series, like me, may find the present-day bookends and the occasional bridge-building bits a tad befuddling, but once past that, this is devilishly good fun.

The titular mad bride (Natasha O’Keeffe) goes on a very public shooting spree and then blows her own head off, but later eerily returns to life to gun down her husband before disappearing into the fog to stalk and menace others. This iteration of the venerable classic is highly atmospheric, imaginatively filmed, and played mostly for laughs. It will not, however, please everyone. The game’s afoot!

Japanese title: Sherlock: Imawashiki Hanayome. (90 min)