From Hell

From Hell


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

As serial killers go, Jack The Ripper went... undetected.

This enables writers and illustrators - in this case, Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, who created the comicbook classic from which the movie was adapted - to twist their imaginations into all kinds of nasty knots.

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The Hughes brothers, Allen and Albert, are twins from Detroit. They made ghetto movies (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents) in the Nineties when black directors were the rage. To take on the most famous Victorian whodunnit is quite a leap. Filming in Eastern Europe with an American/British/Irish cast adds another layer of make-believe.

The Ripper murdered five prostitutes within 10 weeks in the autumn of 1888. He didn't just kill them, he mutilated them, extracting certain organs with surgical precision. The film spares no detail.

The conspiracy theory put forward here involves Freemasons, the heir to the throne and the grieving queen herself, none of which appears entirely far-fetched. However, judging by the violence of the crimes, the killer cannot be taken seriously when finally he is exposed.

London's Whitechapel was built in a field outside Prague. It has that one-street Truman Show look. The girls are good natured and stoical, without emerging with any genuine character. Heather Graham (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me), as the redhead who takes a shine to Fred Abberline (Johnny Depp), the opium-addicted detective in charge of the case, has the lascivious wit of a leprechaun's lunch.

Depp displays an understated Cockney accent and stalks the screen with barely visible enthusiasm. Abberline is a depressive and all Depp has to do is stare deeply into the camera's eye to expose an emptiness that will be filled with anguish.

He is assisted by Robbie Coltrane, as his erudite sergeant, who brings humour, irony and weight to the part. If it wasn't for the blood-splashed walls and hideous nature of the murders, these two might have made a terrific double act.

Reviewed on: 06 Feb 2002
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From Hell packshot
Johnny Depp and Robbie Coltrane investigate Jack The Ripper murders in Victorian London.
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Read more From Hell reviews:

Jennie Kermode ***1/2

Director: Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes

Writer: Terry Hayes, Rafael Yglesias, based on the graphic-novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell

Starring: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Flemyng, Susan Lynch, Lesley Sharp, Terence Harvey, Katrin Cartlidge, Estelle Skornik, Ian Richardson

Year: 2001

Runtime: 121 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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