More than the legend will survive
Directors: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes
Starring: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm
Plot: In Victorian-era London, a troubled clairvoyant police detective (Depp) investigates the murders of Jack the Ripper.
Based on a novel by Alan Moore, From Hell takes all we know about Jack the Ripper and weaves together a story involving a drug-addicted police officer, a conspiracy that involves the royal family and an anti-semitic cover-up, all coming at a time when any Johnny Depp film wasn’t just rehashing Captain Jack Sparrow in all his films and Heather Graham was still a leading lady, producing a film that’s two parts period drama and one part Tim Burtons Sleepy Hollow.
If this combination sounds good to you then From Hell is ideal for you, I, however, do have few problems with the film that stopped me for enjoying it as much as Sleepy Hollow, firstly and most importantly being overly complicated plot and although I understand that we are dealing with an unsolved crime and anyone could have been the killer, the film spent a large portion of the film making every male that appeared on screen the potential killer, leading to a long succession of forgettable candidates rather than narrowing it down and giving us someone more memorable and thus giving the twist ending more weight.
Another of the aspects of From Hell that I found took away from the overall enjoyment factor was the constant switching between serious and comedic. One minute the characters are discussing a brutal murder and the next you have a scene that wouldn’t feel out of place in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen making it difficult to work out what kind of film the Hughes Brothers were trying to make.
This doesn’t mean that there isn’t pleasure to be found in the movie, once you get past the changing tone of the film, the plot does it’s jobs as an intriguing mystery, while the great visuals/set design that still holds up in HD to this day.
The acting from Depp and Graham is also a strong point, which both committing to their roles and producing entertaining throughout, including some clever and dark nightmarish scenes that border on horror.