Well, I read and heard a few things about this film which made me curious enough to go see it. It is said that this film is very scary and mostly because of the impressive sound and not as much because of the images and horror-shock-effects. Two conclusions to start with for those who would want to see this film because of similar stories: 1- the film is not the least bit scary; 2- I don’t know what all this talking about the sound is, but I didn’t experience anything different from any other film.
Let me dig out the conclusions a bit deeper. “From Hell” is said to be a horror film just like for example “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”, “Interview With A Vampire” or “Sleepy Hollow”. We all know that these films are much different from a “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, more refined, better worked out, no splatter-horror. Also none of the mentioned films is frightening (personally I usually say that the first scary film still has to be made). “From Hell” is in the vain of the first three. The story plays in the darker times of our history and is more ‘thrillerish’ than horror. Also “From Hell” isn’t much more explicit or anything than the other three films.
The sound then. What you usually hear is that you don’t see Jack the Ripper cutting up an “unfortunate woman” but hearing it is what makes it scary. Besides some slashing and gargling (what you hear in any horror) there isn’t much more to the sound than some dark deep tones that we all know of David Lynch for example, nothing more, really. Besides, “From Hell” is pretty gory at times, with extreme closeups of cut-up bodies and blood all over the place. Quite contrary to the usual reviews, not?
In short the story, because there are two major minor points in it. Frederick George Abberline (Johhny Depp) is a police-officer who under influence of Laudanum (a poison known to alchemists) has visions about cases he is working on. Recently a group of five “unfortunate women” (“there are no whores in England, but oh so many unfortunate women”) are terrorrised by a serial killer who kills them one by one and brutely/ritually cuts up the bodies and leaves them at a place where they are easily found. Of course Abberline falls in love with one of the women, being the beautiful Mary Kelly (Heather Graham) while trying to crack the case with his unusual capacities. Funnily enough there is no happy end for the two.
Then to the bad points in the story. Somewhere halfway you see the Ripper close his small case with equipment and you clearly see the square and compass that form the most well-known symbol of the Freemasons. This made me fear the worst and my fears came more than true. Around the end you see several rituals of the ‘evil’ Masons and Jack the Ripper turns out to be a Mason doing his Mason duty and cutting up the bodies in a Masons ritual way.
And if this is not enough, Jack the Ripper is exposed, while the real example of modern serial killers was never found!!
So, is “From Hell” a bad film? Not at all! It is not quite what you hear and the story is quite horrible, but the acting is good, the stages and locations are wonderfull and there are some brilliant dark scenes when Abberline has his visions. ‘Filmographically’ it is really well-done and entertaining and definately worth to see.