From Hell is a 2001 American horror mystery film directed by the Hughes brothers and loosely based on the graphic novel From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell about the Jack the Ripper murders.
In 1888, Mary Kelly (Heather Graham) and her small group of London prostitutes trudge through unrelenting daily misery. When their friend Ann Crook is kidnapped, they are drawn into a conspiracy with links higher up than they could possibly imagine. The kidnapping is soon followed by the gruesome murder of another woman, Martha Tabram (Samantha Spiro); and it becomes apparent that they are being hunted down, one by one as various prostitutes are murdered and mutilated post-mortem.
The murder of Martha and her companions grabs the attention of Whitechapel Police Inspector Frederick Abberline (Johnny Depp), a brilliant, yet troubled, man whose police work is often aided by his psychic "visions." His colleague, Sergeant Peter Godley, tries to grasp his friend's wild theories. Abberline's investigations reveal that the murders, while gruesome, imply that an educated person is responsible due to the precise and almost surgical method used. Ann is found a few days later in a workhouse having been lobotomized after officials and doctors supposedly found her to be insane.
It is implied this was done to silence her. Abberline consults Sir William Gull (Ian Holm), a physician to the Royal Family, drawing on his experience and knowledge of medicine. These findings, coupled with his superiors impeding his investigations, point to a darker and organized conspiracy. Abberline becomes deeply involved with the case, which takes on personal meaning to him when he and Mary begin to fall in love.
Abberline deduces that Freemason influence is definitely present in these crimes. His superior, a high ranking Freemason himself, then makes direct intervention and suspends Abberline. It is then revealed that Gull is the killer. He has been killing the witnesses to painter Albert Sickert (Mark Dexter)'s forbidden Catholic marriage to Crook (Joanna Page), who bore his legitimate daughter Alice. Sickert is actually Prince Edward, grandson of reigning Queen Victoria (Liz Moscrop), and therefore Alice is heiress to the British throne. Gull tells Abberline that "mankind will remember him for giving birth to the 20th century." Abberline draws his gun, but before he is able to shoot Gull, he is knocked out by one of Gull's henchmen.
Gull tries to have Abberline eliminated without leaving any witnesses, but Abberline fights back and kills two of the assassins by overturning a carriage. Gull himself is a Freemason and his increasingly sinister behavior lends an insight into his murderous, but calculated, mind. Rather than publicly charge Gull, the Freemasons decide to lobotomize Gull to protect the Freemasons and the Royal Family from the scandal. Gull defiantly states he has no equal among men, remaining unrepentant up to his lobotomy, resulting in him becoming invalid just as Ann had been.
Abberline tries to save Mary, but arrives too late, and blames his superior for not helping him nor Godley on the cases. Abberline does nothing but watch Mary's mutilated body being taken away. Abberline receives a mysterious letter, which he soon realizes is from Mary, but he decides not to look for her as a way to offer her protection, as the Freemasons may be watching his every move. Abberline decides to burn the letter, knowing that he can never have a normal life.
Mary Kelly does not die; Gull earlier mistook Ada, whom Liz said was from France (but is from Brussels in Belgium), for Mary and he kills her instead. Mary lives with Alice in a cottage on a cliff by the sea. Abberline is found dead of an opium overdose, knowing he can never see Mary again without endangering her. Sergeant Godley comes to pay his respects for the Inspector.
- Johnny Depp as Inspector Frederick Abberline, sympathetic police officer who investigates the murders. The consumption of drugs makes him dream scenes from the murders, but he conducts the investigation on a conclusive line of thought.
- Heather Graham as Mary Kelly, a young prostitute or "bangtail" who builds up a relationship with Abberline and eventually falls in love with him.
- Ian Holm as Sir William Gull, a gentleman, retired surgeon and physician ordinary to Queen Victoria, now teaching at the Royal London Hospital.
- Robbie Coltrane as Sergeant Peter Godley, the humorous and literary-minded subordinate assistant and friend of Abberline, based on Sgt. George Godley.
- Ian Richardson as Sir Charles Warren, a stiff bureaucrat and Abberline's superior.
- Jason Flemyng as Netley, the coachman and stooge of the murderer.
- Samantha Spiro as Martha Tabram, the 1st victim.
- Annabelle Apsion as Polly Nichols, the 2nd victim.
- Katrin Cartlidge as Annie Chapman, aka Dark Annie, prostitute and gullible 3rd victim.
- Susan Lynch as Liz Stride, the spirited prostitute and 4th victim.
- Lesley Sharp as Kate Eddowes, the mothering prostitute and 5th victim.
- Estelle Skornik as Ada, the old friend of Liz from Brussels, 6th victim.
- Paul Rhys as Dr. Ferral, an ambitious young doctor and specialist in treatment of dementia.
- Vincent Franklin as George Lusk
- Ian McNeice as coroner Robert Drudge
- David Schofield as McQueen
- Sophia Myles as Victoria Abberline, Frederick Abberline's late wife.
The part of Sir William Gull was originally going to be played by Nigel Hawthorne, but when his cancer prevented him from working on the film he was replaced by Ian Holm. The disparity in height between Hawthorne and the much shorter Holm led to some of the scenes being changed.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. Ebert and Roeper gave the film a "two-thumbs up". It currently holds a 57% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 148 reviews. E! Online stated it is "two hours of gory murders, non-sequitur scenes, and an undeveloped romance" and gave the film a C-. The New York Post called it a "gripping and stylish thriller". Leonard Maltin gave the film three stars, calling it "colorful and entertaining; an impressive showing for the Hughes Brothersâ.
The original comic's writer, Alan Moore, did not have anything good to say about the film. He was reportedly disgusted that his "gruff" version of Frederick Abberline was replaced with an "absinthe-swigging dandy" and that the story was changed from an existentialist historical fiction into a mundane "whodunit". This, being the first of the film adaptations of Moore's books, was his first step towards disavowing all film adaptations of his work.
The film grossed $31,602,566 in the United States and $74,558,115 worldwide.
- From Hell letter
- Murder by Decree
- From Hell at the Internet Movie Database
- From Hell at AllMovie
- From Hell at Rotten Tomatoes
- From Hell at Box Office Mojo