From Hell (2001) Review






What is the Connection between the Title and Jack the Ripper?

Jack the Ripper was a serial killer immortalized in the London newspapers of 1888. When London’s East End neighborhoods fell victim to a string of distinctive and brutal murders, they attributed them to a single person. The rumors often referred to “Leather Apron” because of the level of butchery. Though the bodies were left out in the open and found soon after the victims died, these murders pre-date forensic science so there was never a conviction. Letters (thought by many to be fraudulent) sent to the press and signed “Jack The Ripper” served as the only clues. Another letter reached the press, though it didn’t bear the signature some scholars believe it was also connection. They call it “The From Hell Letter” because the writer used Hell as the return address. Check out my full article on Jack the Ripper to get more of the history.

From Hell the Film

Depp inducing visions
Depp inducing visions

The 2001 Johnny Depp Thriller, From Hell, gives audiences just one possible version of events. In this adaptation of an Alan Moore graphic novel, 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, he must be “chasing the dragon” (ie on opium) in order to get his visions.

When 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 no matter the danger, these women must work the streets or risk the wrath of a local gang. And puts them at the Ripper’s 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.

What I Thought of From Hell

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 horror. I haven’t read the graphic novel, but the movie does a great job of weaving conspiracy into a tale of terror. I would definitely recommend this movie for fans of the grittier side of the Victorian aesthetic.

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