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From Hell

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: From Hell

Starring: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham
Director: Allen Hughes
Rated: R
RunTime: 137 Minutes
Release Date: October 2001
Genres: Horror, Suspense

*Also starring: Ian Holm, Katrin Cartlidge, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Flemyng, Ian McNeice, Ian Richardson, Lesley Sharp, Annabelle Apsion

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

Jack the Ripper, who ritualized the slaughter of women in Victorian London, was the first tabloid-sensational serial killer. This horrific twist on the old tale begins in 1888 as Fred Abberline (Johnny Depp), a deeply troubled, opium-addicted Cockney police Inspector, and his long-suffering assistant (Robbie Coltrane) examine the butchered body of a prostitute in the seedy streets of Whitechapel. "No Englishman could commit this crime!" snorts a mutton-chopped Scotland Yard official (Ian Richardson), asserting that the culprit must be one of Buffalo Bill's touring Native Americans, an Oriental, or a Jew. But Abberline's opium-induced visions, his affection for a street-walker (Heather Graham), and conversations with the Royal physician (Ian Holm) lead him to Buckingham Palace and the top-secret Freemasons, who conspire to protect a member. Indeed, Saucy Jack, as he called himself, is a black-cloaked, top-hatted nobleman who lured starving women to their death with grapes and cocaine-laced absinthe. Twin directors Allen and Albert Hughes rely on Martin Child's dark, murky, fog-drenched production design and Peter Deming's cinematography to distinguish Terry Hayes and Rafael Yglesias's trite, formulaic tale, based on Alan Moore's graphic novel. And the title refers to the return address on a taunting letter from the killer. As obsessive Abberline, Johnny Depp relishes his incapacitating torment, relying on spells of clairvoyance for investigative insight, while Heather Graham and her well-groomed cohorts are remarkably free of the filth, grime and stench that characterized the squalid streets. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "From Hell" is a grim, gruesome, gore-filled 6, making this blood-drenched opium dream more of a cinematic trick than a Halloween treat.

Copyright 2001 Susan Granger

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