It is 1888 in London, and the unfortunate poor lead horrifying lives in the city's deadliest slum, Whitechapel. Harassed by gangs and forced to walk the streets for a living, Mary Kelly and her small group of companions trudge on through this daily misery, their only consolation being that things can't get any worse. Yet things somehow do when their friend Ann is kidnapped and they are drawn into a conspiracy with links higher up than they could possibly imagine. The kidnapping is soon followed by the gruesome murder of another woman, Polly, and it becomes apparent that they are being hunted down, one by one. Sinister even by Whitechapel standards, the murder grabs the attention of Inspector Fred Abberline, a brilliant yet troubled man whose police work is often aided by his psychic abilities. Abberline becomes deeply involved with the case, which takes on personal meaning to him when he and Mary begin to fall in love. But as he gets closer to the truth Whitechapel becomes more and ... Written by
(at around 1h 10 mins) A little after the second murder, Abberline is talking with Gull about "Jack the Ripper". However, he was not to become known by that name until the double event murder and receipt of the "dear boss" letter, almost a month later. See more »
I wasn't expecting much from this movie. The critics passed it over rather quickly, saying a few kind words but without a strong recommendation. The couple of people I knew who saw this said that it was "good," but never cared to say much more than that and have never brought it up again. As I sat down to watch it, I thought it looked nice but moved too fast, was a little dumb. But by the end, I was astounded. I think it's one of the best films of 2001. Sure, it's a triumph of style over substance, but I think we need a couple of good films like this every year. I love style.
I would compare From Hell most closely to Alex Proyas' 1997 triumph Dark City, which, like From Hell, made almost nothing at the box office. I hope, like Dark City, that From Hell will win a larger audience on video. It's not as intelligent as Dark City, which was brilliant in nearly every way, but From Hell equals it in visual virtuosity. Its story, while sometimes lapsing into silliness, is enormously gripping. It's also one of the few horror films to succeed at inducing a sense of dread in the audience. A Scotland Yard detective (played well by Johnny Depp) is on the case of Jack the Ripper, who is himself on the trail of a group of five prostitutes. On the way, Depp discovers that the ritualistic murders are part of a larger conspiracy. The film is full of great twists, the biggest one being simply hilarious in its level of audacity. The end is quite unpredictable (although the climax is a little too predictable).
There are several minor flaws in the film. It does go a bit too fast, but its breathless pace ends up paying off well in the end. Many people will be turned off at the level of gore in the film. Seriously, avoid it at all costs if you have a weak stomach. But if you could take it in Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, or Sleepy Hollow, you'll be fine. I actually felt that those three particular films flaunted their gore and were tremendously ineffective in their horror. Yes, even (and perhaps especially) Silence of the Lambs. I don't know why, but I didn't feel that way about From Hell. 10/10.
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