The film begins, much like the book, in Whitechapel in 1888. A group of prostitutes in the East End of London suddenly become swept up in a conspiracy as a royal illegitimacy and the scandal it causes has dreadful repercussions. First, their friend Annie Crook is kidnapped and imprisoned in an insane asylum, then members of the close-knit group of prostitutes start getting murdered and mutilated by the serial killer who would come to be known as Jack the Ripper. Inspector Frederick Abberline, a troubled young detective with psychic powers, is drawn into the case first by his powerful visions, and then by his growing relationship with one of the prostitutes, Mary Kelly.
Abberline continues to investigate, soon uncovering the sinister influence of the Freemasons in the murders and subsequent coverup. He discovers that Sir William Gull, a doctor and prominent Freemason, is the killer. The murders, it is revealed, have been committed to cover up the fact that Prince Edward Albert Victor had secretly married Annie Crook, and had a child by her. Gull is tried secretly by the Freemasons and lobotomized to protect the royal family, and imprisoned in an asylum. Mary Kelly is revealed to have escaped to her native Ireland along with the Prince's daughter, as another woman was killed in her place. Abberline is found dead of an opium overdose.
Relationship with the Book and History
Because the book itself is based on a widely discredited theory, the use of assessing the veracity of the theory proposed in the film is minimal. The historical inaccuracies in this film are myriad, and go beyond even those that the viewer must accept to allow for the basic theory of royal illegitimacy. On the whole this consists mainly of merging characters, such as Abberline and the psychic Robert Lees or Prince Albert Victor with Walter Sickert; renaming characters for unknown reasons, such as George Godley becoming Thomas Godley, or Prince Albert Victor becoming Prince Edward Albert Victor; or a general disregard for the facts of the case, such as the then-45 and married Abberline being in his mid-thirties, single and an opium addict.
The movie also does not remain true to the book in a number of ways. The film is a whodunit, and the identity of the killer is not revealed until later in the movie, while in the book Gull's identity is not made secret. Discussion of the occult or the supernatural is almost completely removed from the film, and where it still exists has been greatly compressed. Mary Kelly's lesbianism and promiscuity is passed off to Elizabeth Stride, and she is instead placed in a romantic relationship with Abberline, whose friendship to her was incidental to the case when it appears in the book.
From Hell has received mostly mixed reviews. It has 6.9 stars out of 10 on IMDb
, 3 out of 5 stars on AllMovie
, 57% from Rotten Tomatoes
, a C from Box Office Mojo
and a C- from E! Online. Most fans of the original book do not celebrate the film, as is common with a majority of films based on Alan Moore's work