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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What Were They Smoking? From Hell (2001)

I love Alan Moore, the creator of V for Vendetta, Watchmen and From Hell. I also love Johnny Depp. When I heard about the Hughes Bros' film production of the book starring Mr. Depp as Inspector Abberline, I could not have been happier. Oh, how foolish I was to have been so optimistic. What began as a subtle critique of social disparities of Victorian (and modern day) England becomes a dreadful Grand Guignol of gross proportions.

Imagine Heather Graham playing a whore. Not too hard, right? Now try to imagine Heather Graham playing a 19th century British whore with a sort-of-cockney accent. Not so comfortable now, are you? "From Hell" is about Jack the Ripper, the whores he killed and the detective who is fighting his dubious peers--and a serious drug addiction--to catch him. It sounds like a great premise, but there are several fundamental problems:
1) It is not scary and lacks most of the social commentary of its source material.
2) Heather Graham looks WAY too clean and healthy to be an authentic whore. She looks like Malibu Streetwalker Barbie.
3) Although it should be respected for trying something new (a gangsta move set in Victorian London) the result is pretty freaking silly--and it takes itself so seriously that you can't help but hang your head and sigh.

there are a few good things about this movie that I should mention:
1) Johnny Depp looks great naked.
2) Despite the stilted, mediocre performances all around, the scenery is absolutely beautiful.
3) I so rarely get to use the word "bathos," and this movie, being overripe with it, gives me the opportunity. Bathos!

What I think they were smoking: Opium.


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