In Victorian-era London, a troubled clairvoyant police detective investigates the murders of Jack the Ripper.In Victorian-era London, a troubled clairvoyant police detective investigates the murders of Jack the Ripper.In Victorian-era London, a troubled clairvoyant police detective investigates the murders of Jack the Ripper.
London, 1888. A young prostitute was murdered in the Whitechapel district. The police enlist the help of Fredrick Abberline (Johnny Depp) because of the savagery of the murder and because his opium hallucinations help him solve crimes. But more victims fall, Abberline begins to realize that these murders are connected.
The film has a brilliantly dark atmosphere. You know that odd creepy feeling you get when you read about haunted mental asylums, and images of demented doctors performing horrific experiments come to mind? That's what "From Hell" feels like. It's an unsettling feeling, and the Hughes Brothers are skillful in their employment of this unnerving feeling.
The acting is solid, although the film's best hand is the atmosphere. Johnny Depp, who according to his IMDb bio is fascinated by Jack the Ripper, plays things straight (as far as Depp can go in that direction). Heather Graham is also solid as Mary Kelly, the prostitute that Abberline develops feelings for. She speaks with a credible Cockney accent, and tones down the perkiness that she's known for to a very low level. Ian Holm and Robbie Coltrane provide good support as well.
The problem with the film is the story. Whether it was in the scripting stage or in production, the story is confusing at times, particularly at the end. This is one of those movies where you have to pay attention, or else you will get lost (which is quite possible, considering how strong the atmosphere is).
Let me make myself clear: this is a very dark and disturbing film. Most of the violence and gore are left to the imagination (which will be on overkill due to grisly descriptions of the murders), but there is no doubt that this movie deserves as hard of an R rating as can be found. Definitely not for the faint of heart or the blood-phobic.
- Jul 5, 2010