Film: From Hell

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Film:

From Hell

Director: Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes
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Genres:
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Heavy on atmosphere and light on everything else, From Hell is visually impressive while lacking the depth of the acclaimed graphic novel it’s based upon. Making their third feature since 1993’s Menace II Society, twins Allen and Albert Hughes approach the Jack the Ripper case with physical precision, re-creating the gritty Whitechapel district of 1888 London in meticulous detail. What they’ve forgotten is the sheer terror that gripped Whitechapel in the wake of the Ripper’s slaying of five prostitutes, investigated here by a Scotland Yard sleuth…

Reviews

Amazon.com

Heavy on atmosphere and light on everything else, From Hell is visually impressive while lacking the depth of the acclaimed graphic novel it’s based upon. Making their third feature since 1993’s Menace II Society, twins Allen and Albert Hughes approach the Jack the Ripper case with physical precision, re-creating the gritty Whitechapel district of 1888 London in meticulous detail. What they’ve forgotten is the sheer terror that gripped Whitechapel in the wake of the Ripper’s slaying of five prostitutes, investigated here by a Scotland Yard sleuth (Johnny Depp) who uses opium, laudanum, and absinthe to fuel his semiprescient visions of the slayings. Heather Graham attempts a slippery Cockney accent as a would-be victim, while Ian Holm steals the show as a has-been surgeon with devilish delusions of grandeur. Violence is obliquely suggested or briefly graphic, but no matter how you cut it, From Hell is only marginally thrilling as it treads familiar territory. —Jeff Shannon

Barnes and Noble

Mutilated corpses are strewn liberally about From Hell, a gripping and gruesome thriller directed by Albert and Allen Hughes (Menace II Society). Based on Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s graphic novel about Jack the Ripper, From Hell stars Johnny Depp as an opium-smoking and unaccountably psychic police inspector whose clairvoyant visions aid him in his pursuit of the legendary slasher in 1888 London. Although the real-life Ripper was never caught, the film conforms to the comic book’s speculative and provocative revelations as to his true identity. Unlike the comic, however, the film withholds the identity of this killer until the end, presenting a complex mystery awash in stylish, psychedelic realizations of the inspector’s second sight and plenty of blood and violence. As if to counterbalance the resulting intensity, Depp plays up the inspector’s opium-induced lethargy, effectively anchoring the proceedings. Heather Graham offers a strong, understated performance as a prostitute whose survival seems more and more uncertain (even if she seems a bit too well groomed to fit in with her fellow streetwalkers), and Ian Holm is typically tense as a retired surgeon who aids the inspector in his investigations. Ultimately, the cast takes a backseat to the Hugheses’ calculated opium dream sequences and grisly carnage. From Hell is a grim tale that’s true to its title and—for those with strong nerves and even stronger stomachs—a dose of some wicked thrills. The two-DVD Director’s Edition includes audio commentary, a behind-the-scenes documentary, 23 additional scenes, and an alternate ending. Gregory Baird

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