Suzy Eddie Izzard delivers a masterful performance of duality as the titular character in Doctor Jekyll, Hammer Film Productions’ retelling of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, directed by Joe Stephenson.

In this interpretation, Dr Jekyll is doctor-turned-billionaire CEO Nina Jekyll, a trans woman in disgrace after an unspecified scandal. Nina’s transness isn’t really addressed in the film: it simply is. And instead of imbibing a potion to change her physical appearance to act on her id, she smokes a glowing green cigarette to summon the mysterious entity known as Rachel Hyde, a creature that once inhabited her father.


Suzy keeps you guessing all the way through the film. The changes between Jekyll and Hyde are frequently subtle – they reside in the twinkle of an eye, or an out-of-character bark of fury. It’s easy to assume that Rachel, rather than Nina, was the driving force behind her pharmaceutical empire – it’s Rachel, after all, who plays chess, and always thinks two steps ahead. Nina claims to never have played, and yet her study contains a beautiful chess set.

Our protagonist Rob represents hope in this story – recently released from prison, with a newborn daughter who’s in critical care, he’s crashing on his brother’s couch and escaping the depressing reality of life by binging horror movies (we’ve all been there). Nina appears to take pity on his sob story, agreeing to hire him against the wishes of her harridan housekeeper Sandra.

The relationship between Nina and Sandra is difficult to parse – at times as close as friends, and at others, Sandra seems more like Nina’s nanny, complete with childish rebellion. Sandra immediately despises Rob, even listing him in her phone as a “criminal boy”, and makes it her mission to fire him as soon as possible.


As Rob and Nina get closer, forming a friendship after the illicit sharing of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, Rob begins to wonder why Sandra is so possessive, and why Nina’s moods can be so changeable. He overhears an argument between the two one night and hides from Nina, but in one horrifyingly tense scene she appears to sniff him out – she strides past him, cane hitting each step until she draws level and just…stops. A warning, perhaps. Just for a moment, before she continues.

Tension builds as Sandra goes missing, and when Rob asks, Nina’s unperturbed and vague about why. Sneaking around the house, Rob finds a door locked from the outside, and Sandra’s CCTV control room, where we can see Nina rising from her bed and heading to the library. 

Nina and Rob play chess – he learned in prison and she’s an expert but aims to teach him a lesson with each move. When they finish their bottle of scotch, Rob is sent out to get more while she enjoys a little “me time”, dancing around in silken nightwear while smoking her special cigarettes.

After a run-in with his ex (and the mother of his child), Rob gets severely beaten by her friends/partners in crime. As Nina stitches up his face, she tells him all about her darker side – the entity who calls herself Rachel Hyde, who travelled to her body from her father’s and has been slowly taking over her life.

One failed suicide attempt and a familial betrayal later, Rachel is back in charge and ready to jump bodies. Have you guessed who her next victim is? Completely over a barrel, with the blood of his rich employer on his hands and the hovering threat that he might never see his daughter again, Rob agrees to be her host. 

Like many good Hammer Horror films, the house is a character in itself – it exudes a kind of quiet menace, amplified by eerie music, tight shots of ideas, and the liberal use of mirrors. Everything belonging to and surrounding Nina is beautiful, sumptuous velvets, gold watches, and large jewels.


They also clearly had a lot of fun with the final transformation sequence. While Hyde doesn’t necessarily look different to her host, she makes quite a stir when she first settles in – the practical effects look great, and it was worth waiting for.

Suzy really stole the show; from her elegant portrayal of the dignified Nina to full-on rambling psychopathic Rachel Hyde, she got to explore her range with this role. Any time she’s on the screen, you’ll struggle to look anywhere else.

Overall, Doctor Jekyll is a thoroughly enjoyable retelling of a classic gothic tale, told by one of the most prestigious horror companies in the world. Some of the dialogue and acting is a little stilted, and it’s not beyond criticism by any means, but isn’t that shlockiness part of the beauty of watching a Hammer Horror film?


Doctor Jekyll (2023) is available to stream digitally from March 11th on Hammer Films website here.


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