Or at least sue the Hughes Brothers.
When I saw From Hell on the video rack at the local video store I was excited about watching it and writing a review about it. Johnny Depp stars as Inspector Alberline in a Jack the Ripper thriller that promised something that it could not follow through with. They promised to explain who committed the horrendous murders, but they didn’t really give us much more evidence than what a lot of us already knew. I was ashamed while I watched this film play out. Its one thing for Hollywood to mess up simple things that Indie films kept accurate, but its another when a well known name screws us over.
The first thing I noticed was that one of the prostitutes was wearing rather expensive looking lace that she would not be able to buy in reality. It was expensive black lace that looked like fishnets, which women were not wearing back in the Victorian Era. Another thing I noticed, also involving the whores, was that the group of friends was being too friendly. Back in the Victorian Era whores were overly competitive, so they were friendly. However, the prostitutes would not have hung out that often. They would have been too busy trying to coerce men into enjoying the pleasures of the flesh for a fee. When the whore got someone she slept with him standing up and facing each other. No man in the Victorian Era would be willing to face a woman he was not married to because she was nothing more than a common “unfortunate.” They would be in the doggy position.
The language of the common people in the film was in no way accurate. I would not have had an issue with it if there weren’t so many more damn inaccuracies in the movie. The accents were also a tad off. The prostitutes’ accents should have been much more common. They sounded too eloquent to be whores. Also, Jack the Ripper silenced the women he was killing as he started killing them, despite that the East End would have been so loud and full of screaming that there would have been no point. Everyone would have just ignored what was happening.
After the first two murders the two coroners both vomited and passed out. That would have never happened. They would have been used to Syphilis victims, which would be worse than any organs missing. They would have seen several victims of the sort and Jack the Ripper’s the only publicized killer whose details kind of became public. There should have also been more screaming coming from the East End of London. It was accurate that the whores were thrown out of the tavern because there were more girls in the room than had paid for it. There are no mentions of legal proceedings, which I knew there were because they needed the legal proceedings to decide whether or not the crime was really a crime. They needed to discuss whether or not a killing was suicide, homicide, accidental, or natural causes.
I do have to commend the Hughes Brothers on how the murder scenes were portrayed. They artistically avoided showing the details of the gruesome murders, so you got the gist of it. You knew what had happened because of the dialogue, but they never showed much gore. The only thing they did show was the human heart the physician placed in the tea kettle over the fire. There was also a really cool murder sequence where you see the whore with her throat whole and then a shadow passes and her throat is cut. It was done really well and I loved watching the sequence. It was also accurate that Alberline made a lot of enemies.
Now, Alberline was the type of man who was very strict about who he hung out with. He would have never taken such good care of a prostitute, never mind her group of friends. Also, the important papers were ineligible to me while I was trying to read it. It was too blurry. Also, the crime photos are way too detailed for the time period. We should have never seen the stitching of the closed autopsy cuts. The time scheme also didn’t work, because Jack the Ripper stopped killing in 1888, but everything passed in the film in a few months. It also lacked suspense and I think that it may be because there wasn’t much in the line of suspenseful music. I mean, they could have used Mozart of Beethoven because that was the music that was popular during this era. Mary Kelly’s bedroom was set up differently than what was in the film. Drawn diagrams show that the windows and door were not close to each other.
I only have two more issues with the film. The first is that the film is about Jack the Ripper, not a love story with Alberline and a prostitute. The love story took over in the end and I felt like it should not be there, especially since Alberline was happily married with no children. He also did not die of opium. He died of old age long after the Ripper case was over. Those two inaccuracies entirely screwed up the film. That was the final straw. The story wasn’t even about Alberline, it was about the case. The case was more important than the character.
I do have to say that actors did a remarkable job with such utter crap. Johnny Depp was at full strength in his roll of Alberline, though it was inaccurate. There were other well known actors in the film as well, but I’ll not mention their names so you can play the I-can-spot-a-familiar-face-drinking-game.
I wouldn’t recommend From Hell as a serious thought as it isn’t worth the time, nor the money that went into it, but if you want to watch actors do what they do best then this is the movie for you.
I give From Hell 2 out of 5 stars.