Release: 2001, 20th Century Fox Starring: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham Directors: Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes MPAA Rating: [R], violence, sexuality Genre: Thriller/Horror
Only the legend will survive...
Full review coming soon.
Based upon a comic book series, From Hell is a dramatized account of legendary serial killer Jack the Ripper. It is 19th century England, and Inspector Abberline (Johnny Depp), a new breed of detective armed with the science of forensics, is assigned to investigate a string of gruesome murders. Along the way, he is taunted with letters by the killer and becomes close to the Ripper's next likely victim, Mary Kelly (Heather Graham).
Long a source of fascination, Jack the Ripper's legend has endured, I think, because he was in many ways the "master villain"--the archetypal predator who pulled off his crimes flawlessly. Of course, he was working at a time when the tools at the disposal of investigators were relatively primitive, but that doesn't seem to lessen the romanticism of his dark legacy. An intelligent stalker who calculated his gruesome acts with meticulous precision, his crimes seemed to hint at deeper mental issues. What else can you say about a killer who focuses his intentions on prostitutes and has a fetish for cutting out their intestines and removing their wombs? I think a sentence from the official From Hell website summarizes his deeds the best, in simplistic, gory detail: "Parts of [the victim] are lying on the bedside table, and what lies on the bed no longer looks human."
Too many stories on Jack the Ripper have been watered down so that we tend to think of him as a vampirish figure who simply slit people's throats. To fully appreciate his villainy, I think you have to focus on the medical precision he exacted upon his victims. Examining a crime scene he left behind, you could only wonder what was going through his mind. Whatever his intentions, it's the cold, premeditated thought that makes his crimes twisted and particularly unique. If the movie focuses on Jack the Ripper as a highly intelligent individual with a grisly obsession, then we might be in for one hell of a crime thriller. I just hope the story doesn't get lost in the movie's self-aware attempt to meld Old England with a modernized, techno-sensibility, or in the highly dubious romance between Johnny Depp and Heather Graham.
On a lighter note, From Hell is set in a time and place that gives Hollywood the chance to exploit the "buxom wench" look. Those of you who read my reviews regularly know that I usually end up ranting about this particular fashion choice, given the chance. This time around, we've got the formidably endowed Heather Graham thrown into a corset and the role of a prostitute--if this doesn't scream out BUXOM WENCH, I don't know what does. In addition, still frames from the movie on the official website show Rollergirl snuggling up with a fellow lady of the night. Is this a case of some girl-on-girl lovin', or just two brothel-betties trying to keep warm? Whatever the case, it's yet another reason to see the movie when it opens wide on October 19.
STAY ON TOP OF ROLLERGIRL!
Rating: ?? out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)