From Hell is a 2001 American horror film directed by the Hughes brothers and based on the novel about the Jack The Ripper murders by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell.
Set in the East End in 1888, the film starts by depicting the life of a group of prostitutes in Whitechapel. Mary Kelly (Heather Graham) and her friends struggle through their daily misery clinging to the thought that things can’t get any worse…until they do. The horror starts when one of the group is kidnapped; soon, the others are being hunted and picked off by the serial killer who comes to be known as Jack The Ripper. An especially gruesome murder attracts the attention of Frederick Abberline (Johnny Depp), a police inspector whose investigations are aided by the visions he experiences while under the influence of opium. The plot thickens when a romantic attachment is formed between Frederick and Mary. As the film reaches its dramatic climax, Whitechapel turns out to be a very dangerous place for both the inspector and the surviving women.
Johnny Depp’s agile performance shows yet again that he is a true chameleon – in a different league from Jason Flemyng’s crude rendition of the minor role of Nelly the coachman.
Controversy continues to rage around Jack The Ripper; and popular interest shows no sign of abating either. From Hell is interesting, not for its historical accuracy but because it starts with a working woman’s perspective; even if the woman in charge is eventually (inevitably?) swept offher feet by Johnny Depp.
Despite the dark gothic theme the film is not your typical horror or slasher movie. It leaves a lot to your imagination and the crimes are mostly shown after they have been committed, so the viewer has to become more involved in imagining the cruelty entailed in the killing. It’s the kind of film that stays in your mind long after you have watched it, and you almost wish it hadn’t ended.
The Hughes brothers apparently had a lot of disagreements while filming From Hell, with particular regard to the level of violence shown on the screen. Because of these disagreements, they went their separate ways and didn’t reunite until Book of Eli, released in January 2010.
From Hell is available for download via YouTube and Google Play.