London's Whitechapel, 1888: a spate of prostitute murders brings maverick sleuth Inspector Abberline (Johnny Depp) to the scene. Assisted by one of the 'fallen ladies' (Heather Graham), Abberline uses every notion and contraption at his disposal to unmask the fiend they're calling 'Jack The Ripper'. In an intriguing twist, the deeper he digs, the more dirt he digs up on the city's upper classes. The Hughes brothers spare no gory details in this keen-edged adaptation of Alan 'Watchmen' Moore's celebrated graphic novel.
The Hughes Brothers
You've only got to watch a couple of episodes of EastEnders to know things can be grim from where the Cockney hails.
But even Albert Square has never seen five prostitutes ritualistically murdered over the space of just 10 weeks.
That was the East End's Whitechapel in 1888 and the killer who wielded the blade was the mysterious multi-murderer, Jack the Ripper.
Laudanum-loaded cop Inspector Abberline (Johnny Depp) and his trusty sergeant Godley (Robbie Coltrane) are following up the brutal slayings of two ladies of the night.
Abberline refutes the suggestion vicious pimps are responsible - he reckons an educated man, possibly a surgeon, is behind the murders.
However, pompous superior Sir Charles Warren (Ian Richardson) soon puts a stop to this line of inquiry. "I tell you this - it's not the work of an Englishman," he says.
Linking up with prostitute Mary Kelly (Heather Graham), who looks as if she's walked out of a Timotei advert, Abberline begins to edge nearer the truth.
But the deeper he digs the higher up the social scale he reaches - ingrained English anti-Semitism, the corrupting influence of Freemasonry and the moral-lite machinations of the Royal Family.
If you overlook the tenuous love story and some slightly awkward dialogue, the Hughes brothers have conjured up a compelling spin on the Ripper story.
Drawing from Alan Moore's graphic novel, the unregulated whims of the debauched well-to-do are nicely contrasted with the abject squalor of Victorian London.
And if you can stand the ever-increasing amounts of gore, there is a neat twist to keep the conspiracy theorists happy.