The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character of Sherlock Holmes being in the public domain has allowed a wide range of film makers craft their own stories of the iconic character and to say any one version is a more realized version misses the point of having multiple different versions out there to choose from (there are three currently on the air on television and in film alone). The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire (2002) features character actor Matt Frewer with the honor of putting on the iconic Holmes’s hat in a case that may involve the existence of the supernatural in the form of vampires.
Holmes and his most trusted companion Dr. Watson (Kenneth Welsh) are called in to investigate the murder of a monk and by the two puncture marks on the neck it is believed that a vampire is responsible. With more murders piling up fast Holmes and Watson must discover who the murderer is and for what reason before Holmes finds himself being framed as the culprit.
It’s hard to imagine Frewer as Holmes probably because he’s so miscast even for this made for TV film. He displays none of the charisma of say Peter Cushing, Ronald Howard, Michael Caine, or Robert Downy, Jr. coming off very flat especially against Welsh as Watson, who is more interesting. Luckily Welsh makes up for Frewer’s shortcomings and it doesn’t distract from the film too much. In regular Holmes fashion there has to be a logical explanation for the vampire-style killings and he must find out what that is.
I will say that writer/director Rodney Gibbons does give the film a traditional Sherlock Holmes mystery look and feel which is unexpected considering that it is a TV movie. It does look better than expected and is quite an entertaining mystery. This is not something I can say for all other Holmes adaptations out there. This being said this Holmes mystery is an easily digestible treat that won’t leave an aftertaste.