PSU Vanguard Shield Icon

Jack the Ripper returns to do battle with Johnny Depp

Hollywood, incapable of certain forms of originality again recycles, reinterprets and regurgitates another unbelievable story line. This time, rather than butchering Shakespeare or Kurisawa (who happened also to borrow from the bard), 20th Century Fox turns, for the Halloween season, to the originator of serial killer infamy, Jack the Ripper. This version is based on Eddie Campbell and Allen Moore’s graphic novel, “From Hell.”

The Ripper, responsible for at least four murders and perhaps many more (everything surrounding the Ripper, like an ugly divorce, is up for argument and contention), has been an enigmatic and mysterious figure since the first victim, Mary Nichols was found slain in the White chapel district of London in the fall of 1888.

Investigating the murder(s) is Inspector Aberline, Johnny Depp, who does another magnificent job portraying a character who has been manipulated into being a lot like Johnny Depp. Inspector Aberline is an opium smoking, Absinthe drinking clairvoyant who while in his stupors of

“Chasing the Dragon” has gritty, holocaustic “visions” of the killer and the victims. Unfortunately these visions only add to the disturbing visions in the film and nothing to catching the killer.

Directors Allen and Albert Hughes, best known for their debut film “Menace II Society,” slide the camera from the tough streets of London to the dark, with disturbing and scratchy cinematography a la “Seven” and “8mm.” “From Hell” constantly segues back and forth between the drudgery of the streets and the apocalyptic images of the Ripper.

Of course no movie is complete without love, not even stories of Jack the Ripper, therefore Heather Graham as Mary Stewart, supposedly the last woman the Ripper killed, steps in to beguile Depp’s Aberline.

“From Hell” provides no real insight into who the Ripper may have been, or why he did what he did. It simply presents a fantastical conspiracy theory involving Prince Albert, the Freemasons and even the Queen.

Initially all the possible suspects of the killing are muddled together to create a huge pile of possible suspects. Gradually Aberline gets closer and closer to the “truth,” until the Ripper is revealed to be an old man pissed off and delusional about a failed career. Uh, yeah right.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the movie besides the gritty visions of gore and the consequent carnage is the manipulation of the end into the classic, happy Hollywood, girl-gets-away-and-lives-happily-ever-after, impossible ending. I mean, please.

Anyway, if you enjoy or need a disturbing and somber movie, “From Hell” is probably for you. If you get enough violence from the papers and television, well then, get a good book, a glass of wine and forget about “From Hell.”

“From Hell” opens Friday Oct. 19 at a theater near you.