A couple of my readers have asked, so I’m trying to get more horror in to my movie diet. I claim to love the genre, and I do, but I don’t think that there’s a particularly large number of really good examples to choose from. Periodically, I get a kick out of watching older horror flicks, in seeing how the genre has changed over the years. Each decade or so since Hitchcock started making his masterpieces has its own signature effects; some of which have survived to modern day, and some of which have not. And while fear that builds from subtle hints and jabs is no longer stylish, I do appreciate that skill set in older scary movies. I wish we had them in modern film.
Technically, I thought this movie was beautiful. It had all the right elements in all the right places, but there was something about it that didn’t quite do it for me. They used existing Jack the Ripper lore as a base, which can be, when told in the right light, downright terrifying. Several of the characters are named after people of interests in the Ripper cases, and there was plenty of blood, although I think that there was not much blood at all compared to the actual Ripper attacks. I guess you could say that there was a “gentrified” amount of blood. Somehow, all the Victorian trappings dulled down what might have been a sort of silly thriller. I think this would have genuinely scared movie audiences of its day, but after twenty years of watching slasher flicks, this one wasn’t much more than a look back in time.
The movie’s initial premise is its own worst enemy. I could deal with Jack the Ripper’s child getting involved with some slaying, just as I could (sort of) get behind Jigsaw finding an apprentice. At least with the Ripper, I could believe some sort of psychological disorder that led to someone getting all rampagey might be inherited. I had more of a problem with the supernatural element: the use of séances and the idea of possession… which I’m not going to call spoilers because it comes up early and often. You’re not going to miss it when it appears.
Despite the rather flawless base, I did have problems paying attention to what was going on. In spite of the brutal murders popping up around the characters, they remained so unflappably… British. It was a major letdown from the histrionics I’m used to seeing. Despite this the movie is insanely well-acted for a horror flick, especially modern horror films which are so poorly acted that it’s almost laughable.