Johnny Depp shot a series of relatively similar movies at the turn of the century. They were all these mystery horror movies exploring the occult and macabre subjects. These are The Ninth Gate, Sleepy Hollow, Secret Window, and the movie we’re going to be talking about today. From Hell is based on a graphic novel and this gives it a striking visual style. Add to this excellent production values and you got yourself a movie that’s going to transport you to 19th-century London with ease. The costumes, sets, carriages, everything looked spot on. We will be following inspector Abberline trying to solve a series of gruesome murders.
From Hell takes the story of Jack The Ripper and makes it even more engaging, something I didn’t think was possible. And the twist they put on it was just pure fucking perfection. Right now I’m trying so hard not to tell you what going to happen because I want you to have the same reaction as I did. Hell man, they were on to something! I remember watching this along with a slew of other movies back when they came out and simply loving them. You have an inspector who’s addicted to opium, alcohol, and tobacco, wandering the streets of London and trying to solve murders, what’s not to like?
I guess my edgy past self was really loving this sort of image. And Depp too, as we could see in these past few decades. Apart from him, we also have the dependable Ian Holm and Robbie Coltrane, along with Jason Flemyng. Ahhh, Jason Flemyng, the ferryman of Hades, driving that iconic carriage straight into hell. Now, when I first saw the movie, I was quite disappointed at the fact it remained mostly rooted in reality with just a few questionable outings into the realm of the unknown. Now, twenty years later, I feel differently and I’m glad we didn’t see some demons or something like that. Moreover, I love them for sticking to their guns right to the end.
It is the year of our lord Satan 1888 and life in the city of London is difficult. Well, difficult for most people as the aristocracy lives the life of luxury. Those who suffer the most are the so-called unfortunates or sex workers, spending most of their time in dark alleys with immoral men. To make things worse there seems to be a murderer on the loose, killing prostitutes in the Whitechapel district. Inspector Abberline and his sergeant Godley got the case, the case that will change their lives forever.
Effortlessly gripping, From Hell is one of those movies you can always watch if for nothing else than for that juicy atmosphere. It’s at the same time foreboding, dreading, and fascinating. Although, above all, I would say it’s immersive. I mean, just take the sound of those metal steps unfolding from a carriage and how they punctuate the depravity that’s to follow. Although it feels like a commercial blockbuster, this is a movie that features quite a few graphic scenes. Throats will be slit, people run over and I don’t need to tell you about the autopsies.
For horror fans, this is practically nothing, but for a regular viewer, it might be a bit too much at times. The movie also poignantly explores some issues you might not expect to find in this genre. For example prostitution, corruption, and a general system of values. And although things have changed since then, we’re still struggling to deal with these issues now, in 2023. This type of social commentary gave From Hell even more authenticity and gravitas.
Finally, the actresses playing these characters were excellent, starting with Heather Graham. I know that a lot of people didn’t like her accent here but I thought she was quite good and got the tone of the movie right. Lesley Sharp and Susan Lynch were also good although out of all of them I remember the most Estelle Skornik. And in case you’re wondering who she is, Estelle played the role of Ada, the French girl who found herself in London at the worst possible time. Considering the end of From Hell, I recommend you follow it up with Black ’47.
Directors: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes
Writers: Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell, Terry Hayes
Cast: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Flemyng, Lesley Sharp
Fun Facts: The murder scenes and wounds on the victims of Jack The Ripper are all modeled after the real ones. So, you can say that the scenes you’re about to see in this movie are authentic.