A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film is extremely violent, with numerous scenes of women being murdered and butchered by Jack the Ripper. It's NOT for kids. There are also some violent fights and a particularly hideous carriage accident. There are also scenes showing sexual behavior, drug and alcohol use, and very strong language.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
The mystery of Jack the Ripper has intrigued people for over a century now. FROM HELL offers an interesting and plausible take on the story, leaving out none of the violence and horror of the Ripper's crimes. Johnny Depp is Inspector Abberline, assigned to solve a series of hideous murders of prostitutes in Victorian London. He has a troubled past, is an opium user, and has visions that help him to solve his crimes. Heather Graham is improbably lovely as one of a group of prostitutes who seem to be singled out by the killer. The story unfolds amid scandals involving the royal family, the latest "advances" is treating mental illness, and even an appearance by the Elephant Man.
Is it any good?
Depp gives a typically strong performance, though From Hell is often predictable and it sometimes feels as if the plot is simply a vehicle to get from one horrific murder scene to the next. There are also too many scenes where mistaken identity is the key to the scare -- for example, someone in a big black cloak sneaks into a room accompanied by ominous music, but it turns out not to be the Ripper but a police officer. This is repeated so often that after a while it simply doesn't work anymore.
The film is beautifully directed and shot, giving an uncomfortably real sense of life in the lowest strata of society, and the version of events presented in the film is intriguing, though not strictly historical. Viewers who aren't in a state of shock after viewing all the murders might want to do some reading about the actual Ripper case and the various solutions to it that have been posited over the years.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the actual history of the Jack the Ripper story and how the film departs from known facts. The plausibility of the film's versions of events could be discussed, as well as its portrayal of life in Victorian England. This is an extremely violent film, however, and its gruesomeness may overwhelm any desire to discuss history.
- In theaters: October 17, 2001
- On DVD or streaming: May 14, 2002
- Cast: Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Johnny Depp
- Directors: Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 121 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence/gore, sexuality, language and drug content
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