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  • The critics, nit-pickers and historical pedants who've trashed this superb piece of truly cinematic movie-making have totally missed the point.

    So what if Johnny Depp's English accent isn't exactly "right" for his character? (English accents have always been problematic for all but the most skilled of American actors: Depp pulls it off entirely passably, way way better than - say - Keanu Reeves, risible in Coppola's Dracula. Think of Kevin Costner, who didn't even bother trying in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.) I'm a Londoner by birth, and for me the accent in no way detracted from Depp's excellent performance.

    As for history, again, who cares if the filmmakers have employed a degree of dramatic licence? This is a movie, not a documentary. Nobody knows for sure who Jack the Ripper was, and in order to make the film interesting and enjoyable the writers have speculated a little. Fine by me.

    OK, so Heather Graham was impossibly glamorous, but movies with big budgets need a little bit of star appeal. The notion of the "tart with a heart" is a cliché, sure, but nevertheless her character works in the context of the film. (Contrast the depiction of prostitution generally in this film with the utter garbage that is Pretty Woman.)

    What's so great about this film? The quirky, literate script; the performances (all, with the possible exception of Graham, excellent); the wonderful photography and production design; the depiction of the murders themselves - elliptical, shocking, mesmerising; and above all the aura of brooding menace, gloom, cruelty, darkness, melancholy and downright despair running through it as deeply as the veins through a block of marble. This is marvellously thoughtful, evocative film-making, very bold and brave. No happy Hollywood ending, no phoney saccharine or cheap laughs to satisfy the popcorn brigade. This is a proper grown-ups movie that probes some of the darkest regions of the human psyche, places mainstream filmmakers like Lucas, Spielberg, James Cameron and their ilk don't dare to go, or couldn't go even if they wanted to. To me it appeals almost on a subconscious level, forcing us to confront our deepest fears and taboos - death, pain, suffering, human wickedness. I can't think of a recent major release that is so relentlessly downbeat.

    Don't let the detractors put you off. It's hardly surprising a generation weened on MTV - folk with the the attention span of a gnat and the emotional depth of a paper cup - didn't like it. They've got their Screams and their Scary Movies, and they're welcome to them. This is super stuff, and the Hughes brothers and their collaborators should be heartily congratulated for it.

    A classic, not so much for the plot, which is a little contrived, but for its sure command of cinema as a visual storytelling medium.
  • The best thing about an enduring mystery is that people can feel free to take all sorts of liberties with the facts and create interesting "what if" scenarios. FROM HELL is a perfect example. For the record, the theory behind the killings is pretty much right out of JACK THE RIPPER: THE FINAL SOLUTION by Stephen Knight, and it's been pretty well discredited since it first came out twenty years ago, even though it makes a hell of an entertaining piece of fiction.

    I completely discount any criticisms of the movie where people say "it didn't happen that way". Of course it didn't; that's why this is a fictional film and not a documentary. It's very loosely based on the Alan Moore graphic novel, and about all it retains of it is the Duke of Clarence theory and the stylish look of the architecture. It's enough to make the film beautiful to watch.

    Yes, I know that four of the five victims of Jack the Ripper were women in their late 40's, which on the streets of Victorian London would mean that they would resemble crones in their late 60's or early 70's. Just try to make that fly past a Hollywood studio boss; the casting at least had women who looked fairly human rather than like fallen glamour girls. I've read a couple of comments disparaging the accents. Actually, Cockney accents were the norm in the street because people tried to blend in and often weren't eager to advertise Scottish or Irish origins.

    I call special attention to the performance of Jason Flemyng in the role of Netley, the coachman, arguably the most fascinating and believable character in the whole production. Most of his best scenes ended up on the cutting room floor, unfortunately, and yet he still manages to pull the movie together into a cohesive whole just by his presence. (It must have been a heck of a fun role to play!) As well, Sir Ian Holm deserves special mention for stepping in when the original choice for his role, Sir Nigel Hawthorne, tragically became ill and died just before the film went into production. I have never seen Sir Ian in any role that I didn't find completely believable, and that ranges all the way from KING LEAR to his role in ALIEN, for heaven's sake.

    My interest in the whole Jack the Ripper case has been reawakened thanks to this movie, and I'm trying to hunt down a copy of Alan Moore's graphic novel (which is very difficult to find). No, it's not even close to an approximation of what really happened; nobody will ever know the truth, Patricia Cornwell's arrogant claims notwithstanding. It's still worth renting, if only for the beautifully ominous score and the fascinating transformation of Prague into Victorian London. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • There are many things in media that have nearly insurmountable preconceptions that lead to generic truisms. One of these is 'comic books are pure fluff,' and another is 'no good movie is ever based on a comic book'.

    From Hell is a project that takes both of those truisms and tosses them completely out the window. Based on an ambitious graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Eddie Campbell, From Hell (named for the signature on the Jack the Ripper letters written to the police), is one man's carefully researched theory into the eternal mystery surrounding the Whitechapel murders of 1888.

    This is not a factual display of guilt or innocence, as many of the answers behind these crimes will never be known, but as theory mixed with fact, it creates with chilling detail the mood of lower-class London in the late nineteenth century, where life was cheap, bloody and oftentimes short.

    The Hughes brothers, noted for their stylish direction, do a very good job of creating the mood here, involving all the grunginess and hopelessness of the streets, and combining the more mystical elements of Moore's story into the crime tale. Johnny Depp is Inspector Abberline - an opium-smoking criminal investigator that often follows up on hunches he receives during moments of hallucinatory revelation.

    The style of the film - dripping with violent murder of prostitutes in alleyways - leaves more to the imagination than it reveals, although the gore level is by no means light. The vicious throat-slashes and bloody crime scenes are definitely grotesque, but most of the time we are shown the crime after the fact, letting the viewer decide how horrible the murder itself was.

    All the performances are strong, fitting together into an ensemble piece, with Depp being as much a chameleon as ever as Abberline, and Robbie Coltrane equally strong as his colleague Godfrey. Ian Holm, Heather Graham, and Ian Richardson also provide good supporting roles.

    For an historical perspective of the Jack the Ripper crimes, best to watch an A&E documentary. But for a theoretical description of the crimes, and an artful depiction of a carefully constructed tale, definitely check out the very chilling, very calculated, and very good From Hell.
  • edm-the_red1 November 2013
    I'm pretty much a fan of Johnny Depp, as I usually appreciate his performance regardless of my ultimate opinion of the movie itself. Sleepy Hollow was a masterful re-envisioning of the classic story of Ichabod Crane, featuring a nice blend of mystery & horror. From Hell seemed like a natural extension of this character archetype, with a loosely-based historical inspiration, adding weight to the horrific scenarios that it depicts. With that in mind, I decided to check it out.

    There are many things that are done right in this movie, number one being the atmosphere. London is gray, rainy, & dark, and its desperate citizens reflect this foreboding setting well. The women whore themselves out for an extra cent, while the men retain control through intimidation & violence. Racial tensions, corrupt officials, and secret societies complicate the picture, and the actors in their elaborate costumes capture the unrest perfectly. As the film is a work of historical fiction, it takes liberties in the portrayal of certain events/facts, but only for the purpose of increasing the dramatic potential of the plot. In fact, these little deviations in historical accuracy felt very creative, and mostly fit in with the ambiguous nature of one the most infamous unsolved mysteries.

    The faults, while noticeable, are not disqualifying. The characters are played well, despite being mostly unremarkable to begin with. Depp's Inspector Abberline is likable, though his behavior is inconsistent. As an opium addict, he seems content to waste away his life in an altered state, yet jumps into action without hesitation, and utterly dedicates himself to risk life and limb tracking down a vicious serial killer & sifting through the lies that keep him so elusive. This also serves to make his relationship with Heather Graham, as the female lead, seem slightly artificial. The visionary, opium-induced haze that enables him to keep pace with the killer was an interesting touch, but wasn't utilized to its full potential, in my opinion. Also, the killer's character is not developed enough, and so comes across as "cartoonishly" scary, lacking in realism.

    Ultimately, this is a tense thriller that will captivate your attention, with a unique interpretation of the Jack the Ripper mythos.
  • A dark and meticulous tale, based around the murders of Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel, London. The films look is no more than what you would expect from a one based on Jack the Ripper. Dark shadows loom over the characters as the satanic nature of The Ripper is emphasised. It's such an intriguing story and character that every time I watch a film based on this story I come away slightly disappointed. This time was no exception. While the acting was good (minus some quite unconvincing cockney accents - Heather Graham and Johnny Depp, I'm talking to you) and the direction assured, the script seemed a little reserved. There was no great insight into any of the characters, and much of it played out like a simple murder mystery. But this didn't stop me from enjoying the 120 or so minutes.

    Why did I enjoy this film, I hear you ask? For a start, the direction was superb - the streets of London looked grimy, while the `unfortunates' (i.e., prostitutes) wandered around in squalor awaiting their fate. This produced a wonderful atmosphere, creating murder scenes that were much more terrifying and shocking (and very gruesome). Johnny Depp's performance (as the detective Abberline), as always, was hugely enjoyable to watch. He played his character in a very subtle way - halfway between comic and serious. He portrays a desperate man, constantly resorting to drugs so he can pass through the day. Depp and the filmmakers see him as a version of Sherlock Holmes, constantly finding clues that other police officers have overlooked (cliched, yes, but somehow Depp provides a little bit of originality). Abberline even suggests that the killer must be a learned man! How could this be?! While dismissed by all the other characters in the film (for a learned man would never commit acts of such debauchery), we as an audience know better not to trust a detective like this - their preposterous ideas are usually right. Another actor to praise in this is the wonderful Ian Holm. He plays his character with a wry little smile, seemingly enjoying every line he says. His interactions with Depp are great to watch.

    While the film provides little to ponder on once the credits have rolled, you can leave satisfied that you have seen a stylish and enjoyable film. The Hughes brothers seem to be a talented pair of directors.

    For those that care I gave this film 7/10
  • "From Hell" is an interesting spin on the familiar Jack the Ripper tale, using the iconic cultural image of the cloaked man with the top hat as the source for a spin-off not of history, but of a graphic novel.

    The lead performance by Johnny Depp as Inspector Abberline (who really existed in 1888 at the time of the murders and really was an authority on the case) is wonderful. Depp nails the cockney accent perfectly. Unfortunately, Heather Graham -- as the prostitute Mary Kelley -- is not as fortunate. Although her accent seems to improve throughout the film at various intervals, for most of "From Hell's" duration her British voice is quite stiff and the American twang is audible. The Hughes Brothers did not choose Graham for her acting abilities.

    That said, the set design on this production is magnificent. 1880s London is brought to life and Whitechapel has never looked more realistic. The film is an odd hybrid of genres because it maintains the look and feel of a slasher film whilst presenting historical elements and painstaking recreations of actual murders. Robbie Coltrane, as one of the police officers involved in the case, has a lot of fun with his character and is fun to watch, and similarly as convincing as the scenery.

    This is a very gritty and gory film -- more so than I ever expected. It's quite a strange beast with hallucinogenic visuals, horror elements and history thrown in for good measure, on top of some slightly modernized techniques. All in all this film kept me entertained because it was unique, and very different, and not particularly because it was "great." I didn't expect a whole lot, but I felt that the movie was directed as ably as it could (or should) have been and the performance by Johnny Depp was deserving of a better film. The ending got a bit carried away, but it still presents a pretty cool twist on the whole Jack the Ripper scenario without totally insulting the intelligence or even upsetting one's sense of history. (Like Disney's "Pocahontas.") The respect the filmmakers have for their material shines through and elevates this above what it could have been. Definitely worth seeing, if only for its originality.
  • I had always been fascinated by the story of Jack the Ripper, but surprisingly this was my first film based on the story. From Hell is an outstanding mystery and a dark, moody film. This is the type of film that sticks in your mind days after seeing it. You'll have the image of old Whitechaple in your head. You'll have the terrific murder scenes stuck in your head, but most of all you'll have the image of Jack the Ripper in your head. From Hell will disturb you. It might scare you, and it might even bore you (action fans will not enjoy this film). From Hell is certainly not for everyone, but it certainly was for me.

    Johnny Depp is fantastic. He is one of my favorite actors, and certainly delivers the goods in From Hell. His performance is perfect, and one of his bests yet. Heather Graham also does a fine job in From Hell. I was surprised with her performance. I'll admit, when I heard she was going to be in the film, I was worried. I mean who doesn't get worried when they find out the same actress who was in Austin Powers 2 is going to be in a Jack the Ripper film. But she did surprise me, although I still think she could have done better.

    The Hughes brothers direct this film with such style. The use of colors in the film is beautiful, as is the use of lighting. The camera angles are crazy, and the film turns out a beauty. Trevor Jones' score is great (As a matter of fact, I'm listening to it now), and fits the film perfectly. The music is eerie, creepy, and scary. It's flawless.

    The murder mystery is also great. It keeps you guessing the whole way through (I was not successful in guessing who Jack was), and when the killer is revealed, it all makes sense. And let me tell you, From Hell is violent! Although not as gory as I expected it to be, it'll still make you cringe (that throat slash!). A lot of the violence takes place off screen, which lets your imagination run wild, and mine did just that(My head was filled with tons of gory images).

    A lot of people call From Hell boring. I can see how they think that, but I disagree completely with that. Sure the film is slow moving, but how fast can a murder mystery movie be? I didn't get bored with the film at all... I was completely absorbed in the film. Another problem people found with this film was the love story, which I have to agree with. Had the love story been more developed, the ending would have been much more depressing, as we would have felt for the characters more (This could be what kept the film from an A+ rating).

    As I said before From Hell is great. It is my 3rd favorite film of the year, and my second favorite horror film (this year). It's a dark, compelling film, that is NOT FUN! There is no comic relief, it's all horror. Had it been a little more scary, and had the love story been more developed this film would be an A+. I highly recommend fans stay away, because you'll hate it.this film to fans of Jack the Ripper, and horror fans with patience. Action

    From Hell: 9.5/10, A
  • 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.
  • "From Hell" is another Jack-the-Ripper yarn. This time around Johnny Depp plays Inspector Frederick George Abberline, who is investigating the work of a killer carving up the bodies of prostitutes in Whitechapel, London.

    "From Hell" is a borderline horror/thriller. There is a fantastical element to the story as Depp receives visions of the killings, when "chasing the dragon" (or, in simpler terms, when doped up to his eye-balls). These visions are used to make mad-intuitive leaps on Abberline's parts to help push along the story-line, as the bodies begin to pile up. Unfortunately the killer is quite obvious as the script provides "red herrings" which are set up in a manner that you know they're going to be false, so the viewer is "surprised" (or not) when the real killer is revealed. That's a shame as it removes some of the mystery from the movie when you realise you got it right. There's also a rather interesting take on the murderer's reasoning, which is not entirely unwelcome, but does feel somewhat as if they need to pad out the story and distinguish it from other Ripper yarns.

    Depp is, as usual, good. His accent appears a bit muddled however - where is he supposed to be from? But, as Hollywood standards go, it's better than average. Robbie Coltrane provides the humour (such as there is) by being Abberline's quipping side-kick, making dry observations of the situations he finds himself in. Coltrane has shown his acting skills in the TV series "Cracker" and he doesn't strain himself here, nor does he outshine himself. The rest of the cast are grand but Heather Graham, as the whore whom Depp falls for, is unconvincing as she looks far too pretty, and well mannered, to be a "lady of the night".

    The direction is alright. The Hughes' brothers manage to convey a generally, downbeat and sombre tone to the proceedings. The vision sequences however come across as slightly comic-booky, a reminder of movies of the 60s/70s where they went overboard on filters and camera distortions in order to depict insanity. Far more effective is the bleak visions used in the TV show "Millennium" - here it tends to detract from the seriousness of the moment. Some of the scenes are fairly gory - it features a quite gruesome throat slashing - while other times the violence is seen purely in the reactions of others, without having to expose the viewer to it. Both of these work well. All in all the Hughes' acquit themselves because they fail to actually show a bright, clear image until the very very end of the movie, where the image is accompanied by one of the darkest in the movie. Thus they effectively capture the mood of the city and the times.

    "From Hell" suffers from having a lack of tension and a script where characters tend to take on almost caricature tones (some of the prostitutes and the Nickel's gang in particular come across as ham-fisted). Nevertheless there's a mood to the movie, and Depp's performance is convincing enough to keep you watching until the decidedly downbeat end. Recommended for fans of the Victorian thriller/horror genre and those seeking a half-decent movie. 6.4/10
  • Grotesque and gory Gothic theorizing about who was Jack the Ripper. There are as many conspiracies as the JFK assassination and very few scholars agree on anything if not everything. It is an ultra-stylish, nightmarish Movie with some modern Film flourishes that work well in this hallucinatory Hell.

    There are some impressive set details and the story is rich with Masons, Whores, Royalty, Physicians, and Police. Quite the Victorian mix of upper and lower echelons that blend uneasily in a time of pompous self-righteousness and ego-maniacal excesses that helped give birth to the Twentieth Century and Liberalism.

    This is a visually vibrant and fearless rendition. It has an infectious feel. As entertainment this is a sharp edged Film that cuts psychedelic and mystical mayhem dripping with theatrical and melodramatic turns and penetrating presentations of an ugly and unfortunate setting and time.
  • 30 Second Bottom Line: The infamous Jack the Ripper serial killer mystery unfolds in Victorian England as a stylistic who dun it.

    From Hell is an exciting murder mystery with a number of hints about who dun it to keep things interesting every step of the way. Depp gives his expected, outstanding and other worldly performance. Ian Holm, Katrin Cartlidge, Robbie Coltrane and Ian Richardson and some of the unnamed prostitutes give the film an edge that takes us back a century in time. Heather Graham is OK and I'm pleased to see her doing something beyond Say it Isn't So and more along the lines of Sidewalks of New York. She is, however, a little too pretty, sophisticated, charming and clean for a street ho. Katrin Cartlidge would have been a better Mary. It's a little bit of a stretch to envision the Inspector and the whore Mary falling in love, but stranger things have happened.

    It's always gratifying to see actors, writers and directors grow; and certainly the Hughes Brothers are doing that. They have not made a lot of films but each one is very good. The two could be a Stanley Kubrick in the making, as he only made 13 films during a long, respected and controversial career. Since 1993, they've made Menace II Society, Dead Presidents and American Pimp. From Hell is more sophisticated while still retaining a dark tone that is not depressing. Peter Deming as cinematographer has outdone himself with From Hell and Mulholland Drive. It's clearly Oscar caliber work.

    Although From Hell is based on a comprehensive novel of the same name by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, with the focus on a real killer in 1888, the film is not trying to be a JFK and convince us how it really happened. That said, when you realize who the killer is you are faced with an interesting hypothesis.

    Jack the Ripper may have been crazy, but he was acting out of logic (his own to be sure) and for a reason other than wanting to kill a few prostitutes. The fog in London finally is lifted on the murder mystery and on the Hughes Brothers being great directors.

    Message on the movie: We can't always have what we want from life. Evil exists. Victorian England was a very unpleasant place and era.

    So the conclusion is that this movie is a fair movie althouht actually it hadn't got a very clear ending, it is fantastic thriller to watch and remember don't miss this one.
  • I thought the Hughes Brothers and the actors all did a fantastic job in this movie and I was thoroughly entertained! I wasn't expecting a documentary with a factual plot like some, just a good story and that is what I got. Indeed, you feel like you're in White Chapel, the visuals in this film are so well done. The ending is brilliant! If you're see this film expecting to be entertained, you will be. If you see this film to seek validation of your Ripper theories, you may not like it! I was fortunate enough to see this baby on the big screen and I also own it on DVD! Even still, I can't help but watch it every time it comes on cable. One of my all time favorite movies!
  • "From Hell" takes place in our worst nightmares, a place so dark and scary that even walking around is enough to drive someone mad. This is a very, VERY dark film. It's so dark that it makes "Seven" look like "The Wizard of Oz." Then again, you wouldn't expect a movie based on Jack the Ripper to be light and cheery, now would you?

    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.
  • If you look at the box office numbers and the IMDb score you will quickly get the feeling that this was not one of Depp's most well received films.

    And you would be correct.

    But here is the B-U-T I promised you. And it goes ... BUT this is nonetheless a great performance.

    And that is the catch. To this reviewer,the films of Depp are somewhat of a cipher. We tend to associate him with some of his most overblown roles -- such the pirate, the boy with scissors for hands, and so on.

    We do this because he creates the characters so effectively. So effortlessly.

    But what even his most die-hard fans tend to overlook is that he creates the overblown characters so well because at his core Depp is one of the greatest living actors of our age. He simply hides it too well.

    What this film offers, aside from a mood and setting to die for, is a real chance to Depp to show what he can do in a serious part ... and he sells it like pumpkins at Holloween.

    For this reason, as a missing puzzle piece in the archive of his work, I think it deserves special merit.
  • tedg15 May 2002
    Warning: Spoilers
    Spoilers herein.

    For a very long time, it has been a staple of storytelling to ambiguously mix the teller with the characters in the story. One persistent formula is to have a `psychic' character who unknowingly creates the future in his teller role and sees it as prescience in his role as character. Often that character is a drug user and runs into an equally strong opposing creative force based on ritual projection. That opposing force can be religion, the drama of monarchy, or theater. Also normal in the formula is that the sense of his visions becomes entangled with the sensuousness of sex in the person of a temptress.

    We last saw this formula in the amazing `Moulin Rouge' where the narrator/participant was an absynthe user who drives/creates the story. His visions are opposed by an alliance of aristocracy and theater, and confused by his attraction to a prostitute. That film was a remarkable artistic success because the filmmaker completely understood what he was doing. One could follow him as he related one of the forces at work (sex, aristocratic power, the strength of performance, drugs) to the various ironies and uses of the manner of presentation. Very intelligent, very powerful. In this very month, `Frailty' appeared as a slight variation of the formula.

    Here we have the same formula, but completely messed up because of the plain dumbness of the filmmakers. In this case, the narrator/explorer is a detective not a writer, reverting to the original mode. As with Rouge, he uses absynthe but here together with opiates (see `Edwin Drood' for a similar opium-smoker from the same era and place). He is played by Johnny Depp who thoroughly understands this storytelling device (see `Ninth Gate').

    His sex temptress is the prostitute Heather Graham -- being Irish carries extra significance to the formula because the Irish invented this device (see the pooka `Harvey'). Together, they are involved in a struggle with an apparently impossibly force. In Rouge that force was the ritual power of theater backed by aristocracy. Here it is the ritual power of the Masons backed by aristocracy.

    In Rouge, we had debauched Paris, here it is London, which has the extra patina of Sherlock Holmes. That introduction of the detective (read `Darwinistic explainer') as `inventor' of the world revolutionized this formula and drives perhaps half of all storytelling today.

    So we have a very well thought out story, with at least one master actor in the most important role. The graphic novel understood what it was about and exploited the formula expertly. But these guys, the Hughes, are completely oblivious to what this is all about and the project collapses into a juvenile, melodramatic jelly.

    That's too bad, because they are African American. Since Spike Lee is so remarkably outspoken and also so embarrassingly thick and stupid, we really don't need to reinforce the notion that it is impossible for some sectors of the society to deal with even moderately sophisticated material. African-influenced story-telling is the most evolved set of traditions anywhere, which makes this a particular shame.

    Not only that, but the extras on the DVD include a segment on absynthe which is largely inaccurate.
  • What do you get if you mix Edward Elgar, Take That and Ministry of Sound at Ibiza? You get "From Hell". This film is a mix of historical fact ( Elgar), urban legend ( Take That) and surreal drama ( MOS Ibiza) coming together to form a strange yet enjoyable dance.

    The film is set in Victorian London when the poorer classes of London's Whitechapel area lived in fear of the most infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper. Directed by the Hughes Brothers, much is made of Inspector Abeline's opium, Absynth and strychnine addiction, something associated more with Sherlock Holmes than Abeline although historically accurate as the drugs of choice for the Victorian gent in London .

    Johnny Depp, an actor who seems to pick roles which allow him to showcase his versatility is convincing as Abeline, the unfortunate detective who became a sacrificial scapegoat offered up to the frustrated and furious Londoners by a powerful Masonic order. His London accent varies through the film and is reminiscent of his Jack Sparrow. Choosing to understate the role and not to go over the top with the drug scenes or action, but play it in the calm controlled way expected of a Victorian gent. It's tempting to compare Depp's Inspector Abeline with Robert Downey Jr's Holmes but one should remember Holmes was fictional allowing RDJ to go over the top, where as Abeline is real and Depp plays it more so.

    The tale of Jack the Ripper is well known, this version however explores a particular belief that Jack had royal connections and was protected by the Masonic order. The film is filled with factual aspects such as the pressure put upon Abeline to find a Jew butcher as the murderer, the chalk writing being washed off the wall and the intentional misspelling of Juwes. Equally it's full of assumptions, however I couldn't help feeling it's the closest any film has come to the truth. No one has ever sufficiently answered how Jack the Ripper was able to get in and out of east London unseen and un stopped, and the murders, swift and brutal over a short period seemed to end as quickly as they had begun without reason or answer.

    The plot is simple to follow and unfolds with ease as the film progresses, there are no surprises or ridiculous unbelievable twists but there are some problems with the film. You're repeatedly bombarded with surreal drug influenced moments, expected to believe in a miss fitting romance subplot, asked not to question set and costume design which is accurately Victorian but seems too clean and bright for the age. Perhaps the directors felt Abeline's drug induced visions were important and purposely avoided the classic Victorian smog and squalor we think of to give a bright and fresh feel . Additionally, less is made of Jack the Ripper's acts themselves. Given that the film is titled "From Hell" which is how the genuine Ripper letters were addressed, surprisingly the letters and body parts he sent to the newspapers and Scotland Yard is hardly touched upon as the film seems to concern itself more with Abeline and the Masons rather than Jack and his actions. We shouldn't forget how disturbed the mind of Jack the Ripper was and perhaps the fact that somehow these events were indeed covered up, even to this day, the directors were perhaps right to focus on those who sought to perpetrate the cover up than remake a story told so many times before. That said all these things do leave you feeling that the film is not sure of it's own identity and is somewhat confused, schizophrenic even. Enjoyable none the less.

    7/10
  • This movie has good lighting, directing and acting, but the plot is horrible. I watched Menace II Society and Dead Pres and they were both great films. It seemed like the Hughes bros. were in their element. Unfortunately, they stepped into the the wrong arena in this movie. You can notice flashes of brilliance in their direction, but the plot moves along at a snails pace. Don't watch this movie if you want to see a redeemable representation of Jack the Ripper, it isn't about that at all. It seems to me that they used the Jack the Ripper storyline as a catalyst to show late 19th Century London. The entire movie is dark, dank and downtrodden.

    By the end of this film I felt ripped off. Depp and Grahm are good, maybe even great at their jobs, but their talents are squandered in this film. The directors try and turn the story of a sadistic killer into a love story. The problem with their attempted love story is that Depp and Grahm hardly interact at all before the last few scenes. Ahhh, why do all movies end up like this?? Can't there not be a female protagonist for Depp to fall for. I wish. Oh well, I applaud the Hughes bros. for attempting to make a stylized movie about Jack, but they fall short in the plot, dialogue and the whole Jack the Ripper story.

    Bottom line, watch this movie if you A: like either Depp or Grahm, B: enjoy watching interesting dirction with little or no plot to attach itself to. or C: enjoy watching old time London where women are treated like dirt. Don't watch this movie if you A: enjoy films where the plot and the direction correlate to create meaning. B: if you have a weak stomach or are a femenist. or C: If you expect this to be even close to as good as Meance II Society (one of my all time favorites) or Dead Presidents.
  • From Hell is a gruesome portrait of murder in London during the reign of Queen Victoria. It tells the story of Jack the Ripper, a psychotic individual who murdered 5 prostitutes. Johnny Depp is brilliant as the inspector who tries to hunt him down and delivers one of the best performances of his career. The story is well written by the Hughes Brothers and is a truly enjoyable film for anyone who loves the horror genre. However, it is the predictability of this film and the performance of Heather Graham which provides From Hell with a downfall. The spoken dialogue between Depp and a good doctor lets you easily figure out who the murderer is. It does not supply the audience with a surprise or twist. Heather Graham's performance is purely simple and does not illustrate her capable talent. She does not deliver a well-rounded performance as Mary Kelly (also a prostitute) because she does not show essential emotion (i.e. fear) in order to fulfill her role. However, the film is an exceptional horror picture and should not be overlooked by any fan of movies.
  • Don't expect to much of suspense or surprise in this movie. The Huges brothers did a wonderful job with the details of what is known of Jack the Ripper's murders and the atmosphere is well done. However, if you know a little of Jack the Ripper's history then you are not going to be surprised by to much in the film. Also be prepared for what they had to do to make it a big hollywood film which is to give it a somewhat happy ending and over dramatize some of the characters involved. Probably worth seeing a matinee if you like any of the actors or the Ripper story, but otherwise wait for the video.
  • This is a nicely shot film. Many scenes featured very little depth of field. The directors played with focus almost constantly, and had some nice imagery.

    The acting was good. I wasn't blown away, but it wasn't great either. Heather Graham's American accent slipped through only once noticeably.

    The movie was mainly plot driven. Character development was kept to a minimum. The plot was only decent, so that barely kept interest in the movie. It's a nice film to see in a theater for the camera work and visuals, but I wouldn't rent it. It is dark, which is nice to see in a movie shot today.
  • An interesting, if not totally successful variation on the Jack The Ripper story, blighted by Hollywood yet again assuming that anyone in London says "cor blimey" a lot, and speaks in the same exaggerated "cock-er-ney" manner. This is a shame, as the film actually has a lot of good things going for it. Some genuinely chilling set pieces and a suitably grim visual style make for some scary moments. Sadly, particularly in the first half of the film, the Hughes Brothers (directing) seem to spend too much time trying to be visually clever when they should be putting more effort into getting on with the story. When they dispense with the visual gimmickry and the action is allowed to take off, the film is extremely gripping. On another level, the ending is particularly moving. A previous reviewer referred to the film's historical inaccuracies in depth, so I won't retread the same ground, but suffice to say that anyone familiar with the events will be distracted by these, although anyone new to the story wouldn't be affected. Performances are generally good, if not quite the principal performers' best work - in my book, the honours go to the ever reliable Ian Holm and Robbie Coltrane. Overall, this film is well worth a couple of hours of your time, but it could have been so much more...
  • Too clean, too perfect, too modern, too romantic with standard, innocuous acting and direction. It seems like the Hughes brothers couldn't decide between historic reconstruction, blood soaked thriller, weird romance, and hell, so we get a little piece of everything, but nothing real good or convincing. What I particularly disliked are the tourist postcard Whitechapel, the totally unbelievable freemasons+old queen conspiracy, the stereotyped white-old-bad-englishmen, the nice and literate (and fake!!!) street hooker Mary Kelly, not to mention the Disney Ireland at the end. The subject is perversely fascinating, but this is not the way to exploit it.
  • I was amazed (and a bit perplexed) to hear so many of the previous commenters on IMDb – namely, those from the British Isles – make such pointed comments on the (apparently) scarcely believable accents of American actors Johnny Depp and Heather Graham. As for me, being a Yank and all, I neither noticed nor cared too much whether either Depp or Graham turned out a spotless British, Cockney, Irish or what-have-you accent… because ultimately I don't know enough about those accents to be able to make an informed opinion. So in that respect I was rather neutral on the whole accent business throughout the film.

    Yes, I know what an authentic B-C-I accent sounds like, and I too noticed that these weren't flawless, but I never gave it much thought, as both of them seemed at least realistic and convincing enough to allow me to enjoy the overall atmospheric "look and feel" of the movie, which was far more important.

    That being said, I can see where you are coming from. It would be the equivalent of watching a movie, say, featuring Medieval warriors doing battle, where everything in the battle scenes – the weapons, battle flags, helmets, spears, horses, etc.- are just spot-on accurately depicted, but (horror!) here and there you notice that a few of the foot soldiers are seen to be wearing modern-day wrist watches and sunglasses, or sporting the latest pair of Nike running shoes on their feet. Distracting, to say the least – and potentially ruinous to the whole "magic" of the movie experience.

    I get the same reaction, I guess, when I see American actors who were born north of the Mason-Dixon line attempting to do a realistic- sounding Southern accent. My own mother was born and raised in the Deep South; I've personally traveled throughout much of the South, and as such I can spot a real Southern accent from a fake one from at least a mile away. (Good example of a non-Suthnah' doing an incredible Southern accent: Fred Gwynne (born/raised in NY-NY) as Judge Chamberlain Haller in 1992's "My Cousin Vinny").

    But these comments about accents do raise some interesting critical questions. Namely, should Gollywood try to make more of an effort in casting the most appropriate (and realistic) actor or actress in every cast opening? Hmm, let's see, Inspector Abberline was from Dorset... perhaps the producers of this film could have or should have found an actor born and bred in Dorset to fill the role of Inspector Abberline? (Sorry, I don't right off hand know any actors originally from Dorset, so you'll have to provide me a name, if you know of one!). But on the other hand (and we all know this stubborn little fact of filmdom)... yes, that's right, they have to sell those tickets, they have to fill those seats in the theaters, folks. And Johnny Depp – say what you will about him – he *does* at least have that "fill the seats" sort of box-office magnetism.

    I have always admired Johnny Depp, and I like much of his body of work. And I hurry to say that I was not disappointed with his work in this film. I regret that, for many of you, he didn't make the grade as a convincing enough Inspector Abberline, so much so that it ruined an otherwise absorbing and atmospheric film. I can only point out that, given the realities and mysteries of casting, it could have been worse. I mean, thank God it wasn't Bill Murray playing the Inspector! (Danny DeVito, anyone?)

    With the possible exception of calling the good folks at Central Casting, I don't know what the answer is, I don't know what we can do about it... (Sorry, I don't know their number, but I know it ISN'T "1-800-GET-REAL".) But let me just close by saying that movies DO require a certain contribution of suspension of disbelief on the part of the viewer. Until the folks at Central Casting can come up with perfect matches for every cast part, or until actors and actresses can effortlessly adopt themselves to the subtleties of a regional or foreign dialect, well, we will just have to deal with it, won't we?
  • for this lame movie. it wasn't even scary, just disturbing. the killings made no sense. the whole story was quite senseless. was it a cruel love story? a slasher movie with some romance or what? johnny depp was great, that's it. heather graham's acting was disappointing. she didn't even fit into the movie. and how come she always looked so nice and clean while her friends were dirty and bad dressed? my advice - rent on video, don't waste your money on this crappy movie.
  • Impressive. . . .Stylewise that is.

    It seems my assumption couldn't have been more wrong about the Hughes Brothers. Okay I know I might sound discriminative about the fact that since making Menace II Society I thought this is the type of "Hood" films they'd be only used to doing. . .BOY WAS I WRONG.

    Not a bad comeback I might add, Johnny Depp as usual gives his best at playing unusual characters like that of "Sleep Hollow". Here he more or less does the same only presenting a more somber mood as the inspector in charge of the Ripper case. Performances are good all round (especially to the two stars Catrin Cartlidge and Lesley Sharp last seen togethor in the Mike Leigh classic 'Naked').

    Very well shot and stylish backdrops helped provide the movie's gothic setting giving London a truly creepy touch.

    My only disspointment was that the murders weren't so shocking and brutal as I'd come to expect (maybe the Hughes Brothers should've looked at some Giallos of Lamberto Bava or Dario Argento in order to help gain more reference to the blood and gore portrayed).

    Overall not a bad attempt, though it was a tad bit dissapointed. 6/10
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