We’ve always been fascinated with Jack the Ripper. There are countless theories regarding the identity of the butcher of Whitechapel and while we might never know his real identity he has become an iconic, terrifying villain in modern media, considering the amount of films and series he is featured in, including the Hughes brothers’ adaptation of Alan “Watchmen” Moore’s graphic novel From Hell.
Dubbed a ‘horror mystery’, From Hell follows a group of prostitutes, including Heather Graham as Mary Kelly, that are unwittingly drawn into both a conspiracy regarding the kidnapping of one of their own and a series of gruesome murders that seem to be targeting them one by one. The brutality of the murders draws the attention of Abberline (Johnny Depp), an opium-addicted police inspector that has drug-fuelled psychic visions regarding the cases he investigates.
As the film progresses, the horrific nature of the murders are only paralleled by the violent and squalor that the lower class in London lives in, turning From Hell into a horror film that is less about scares and more about chilling its audience to the bone.As the killings continue and escalate in brutality, we are drawn into the mystery and masonic conspiracy that surrounds these ‘ladies of the night’ and the Hughes brothers make sure to drive their impact home as the more squeamish among you might just have some trouble sleeping the night.
While I haven’t been much of a fan of late, Depp and Graham are great in their roles, especially considering that both actors have seen a slump in popularity of late, but my favourite performance from the film would by that of Sir William Gull, played by Ian Holm. He tends to add a touch of class to any film he stars in and in a film as macabre in nature such as From Hell his presence as and upper-class gentleman and the physician to the royal family is a stark contrast to the rest of the film, as if the filmmakers are asking the audience to decide the who the real monsters are.
From Hell is a guilty pleasure of mine, as with most horrors and is as fitting on Holloween or Friday the 13th as it is on any other movie night for an audience with a taste for the horrific and while the story is heavily adapted from both the original murders and the graphic novel, it is still a chilling look into the crimes of a killer that has never been solved, and most likely never will. Personally, I think I’ll rather face a myriad of ghostly creatures than having a run in with Mr. Ripper who is surely as evil and as vicious as anything else that we can imagine that has entered our world…from hell itself.
Last Updated: September 20, 2013