From Hell – Movie Review

Jack the Ripper, the nickname given to a serial killer immortalized in the London newspapers of 1888, was a gruesome departure from our prim and proper view of the Victorian era. Because of the distinctive way the killer(s) dispensed his victims, the string of murders committed in the East End neighborhoods like White Chapel and Aldgate were attributed to a single person. These murders predate forensic science so there was never a conviction, only a number of letters (thought by many to be fraudulent) that were sent to the press and sometimes signed “Jack The Ripper.” Another, unsigned letter that some historians believe is the only legitimate letter from the murderer, marked “Hell” as the return address, giving both the graphic novel and the movie that followed the name From Hell. (If you want to check out the original letters you can find them here.)

Depp inducing visions

Depp inducing visions

The 2001 Johnny Depp thriller gives audiences just one possible version of events of this unsolved crime. In this adaptation of a graphic novel by the near legendary Alan Moore, Depp is a detective who gets psychic visions of murders. He is based on the real life chief of Scotland Yard, Frederick Abberline who worked the Ripper case. With the help of Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid of Harry Potter fame), Abberline uses his flashes of insight to catch criminals. Unfortunately, Depp must be “chasing the dragon” (i.e. on opium) in order to get his visions.

GrahamWhen the prostitutes of London’s East Side start turning up dead, he goes to them and finds a reluctant ally in Mary Kelly (Heather Graham). She and her circle of friends are being targeted by the ruthless killer, but none of them know why. No matter the danger, these women must work the streets or risk the wrath of a local gang, which puts them at the Ripper’s (total lack of) mercy. Abberline must discover the dark secret that connects them before there are none of them left. Ian Holm (Fifth Element, The Hobbit) and Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) round out a great cast.

I don’t always like horror films because of the gore, but I felt this movie showed just enough blood to be a Ripper film but relied on good acting while shielding the audience’s view for most of the yuckiest parts. I would call it a thriller rather than a horror movie for just that reason. I haven’t read the graphic novel, but the movie does a great job of weaving conspiracy into a tale of terror. Nevertheless, the facts themselves are not a tale for the faint-hearted, so the squeamish among you may want to give this one a pass.

Phoebe Darqueling is a writer and artist who is inspired by Steampunk, and though she may live in California her heart will always belong to Minnesota.

Like my reviews? Check out more cool stuff at my website!

Like my reviews? Check out more cool stuff at my website!

 

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