Ripper: Letters from Hell (2001)
Director: John Eyres
Five years ago, Molly (A.J. Cook) was the sole survivor of a serial killer’s murder spree on an island (don’t ask). Today, Molly is at some school studying...guess what? Serial killers. You know what else? A loony just decided to crash her school and he’s offing the student body in a “Jack The Ripper” copycat fashion. Who is this ambitious killer? What’s his motive? Why is Jurgen Prochnow prowling around with a knife and an apple? Do I give a damn???
Grrrrrrrrr, movies like this piss me off. It's one of those teen slashers that tries to be more than what it really is, but unfortunately winds up being worse than the sub-genre that it’s trying to upstage by constantly displaying utter stupidity and “artistic” posturing.
Like a virgin with her mouth full, Ripper does it all wrong. On a character level, this has to be the thinnest, most unlikeable bunch of shallow teens I’ve ever had to endure in a teeny-bop slasher. Are all the chicks in this flick on the rag? Are all the guys in this movie NOT jerking off on a regular basis? What’s with the damn attitude problems??? Even the lead (A.J. Cook), whom we're supposed to feel for, is painfully despicable with her overdone queen bitch thang. I couldn’t warm up to her! This girl acts like an a-hole 98 percent of the time! Throw me a freaking bone over here! How can I sympathize with her pain and all that jive with that kind of behavior? Nice lips though…
It doesn’t get much better when it comes to the “supporting players”. We get the always-able Bruce Payne (Kane) doing his best but for some reason his thoughts are often voiced out loud. What was that all about? Every time his voice-overs would kick in, I’d check my rum and coke for a hidden LSD tablet. I didn’t find much purpose in what he had to say, other than to make him a suspect. And what the hell was Jurgen Prochnow (Kelso) doing in here apart from collecting that paycheck? Why was he wandering around campus with a butcher knife and an apple? Hello? I know the goal of his creepy demeanor was to also make him a suspect but how about being a little bit more subtle about it? Was him peeling the apple symbolic? You know, peeling away the layers? Who gives a shite! His presence bordered the ridicule. If you’re going to be pretentious…DO IT RIGHT!
Story-wise, the flick wasn’t all that either. It's basically poorly written dialogue scenes between the students intertwined with overdrawn kill scenes that begin simply enough, but always end in the most extravagant ways. What ever happened to an old-fashioned slit throat? The last time I checked, Jack The Ripper never killed anybody using a sawmill’s facilities or a freaking Jeep! To add insult to injury, we also get some lame-o boo scares, some super dumb moves by the characters (the phone is dead, a killer wants our asses, let's separate and go fix that phone…COME ON!), a poorly written love triangle (urg), plot holes galore, a sillier whodunit (wait till you see the end) and some token stuttering prick dude (I hate those) who’s only present to be yet another suspect (an annoying one at that). Yes, this flick kept rubbing the wrong side of my arrow.
On a minor positive note, the directing and the cinematography are pretty sharp, the pace is decent, and some of the real Ripper facts are used in a witty fashion. I also dug the transvestite “Carrie” homage, Bruce Payne’s performance and the murders, even though they were over the top, they were still somewhat amusing. But for the love of GOOD HORROR, how about tagging a well-written script to that technical panache? How about not treating the viewers like morons? How about delivering an ending that satisfies? I’m still pissed about the flick’s last frame that just doesn’t play fair with us. Ripper is like a teasing, drunken whore, she keeps sending us false signals and jerking our “ding dongs” but never lets us cum. Here’s a “Letter From The Arrow”…THIS MOVIE BLOWS AND NOT IN THE WAY WE WANT IT TO!
Most of the murders are pretty brutal but mainly suggested. We get some stabbings, death by boat rotor, lots of blood that looks like paint, a scalpel incision, some broad going through her car windshield, a crucified chick and some nasty bits at a sawmill. Decent.
A.J. Cook (Molly) handles her part like a pro and gives a strong performance. The problem is that her role is very unlikeable. Ryan Northcott (Jason) is ok but failed to convince me in certain scenes. Derek Hamilton (Eddie) looks like he’s wearing too much makeup but does fine with what he’s given. Kelly Brook (Marisa) is hot and plays a slut, not much else to say. Claire Keim (Chantal) plays a French girl that’s so French that I couldn’t understand half the shite that she was saying and I speak French!!!
Daniella Evangelista (Maryanne) is hot, what else can I say, not much of a layered part? Jurgen Pronchow (Detective Kelso) looks creepy and spits out his line in a hissing tone. I still don’t get his purpose in the film. Nice apple though. Bruce Payne (Professor Kaine) brings a touch of class to the film. He doesn’t always pick the best projects but his performances are usually solid. Here, he’s actually the more “human” character in the film and gets to display some kool acting moments.
T & A
Some crucified girl’s ta-tas early on and a sex scene that doesn’t reveal much.
I will say that I was impressed with the directing. We get lots of slow motion, flashy images, fast motion, freeze frame, gnarly angles and Eyres even goes the Raimi way during the drugged girl murder scene, very "Evil Dead". I did have a problem with the occasional music video-like montages that halted the movie dead in its tracks. Were those scenes there to showcase the director’s technical abilities? Kind of useless.
We get a subtle and effective score but we also get too many unnecessary rock songs. I dug the industrial techno stuff though.
Distributor: Lion’s Gate Entertainment
IMAGE: We get the flick in Widescreen. The image is sharp and clean, very good transfer.
SOUND: We get a 5.1 Dolby Digital track that comes through gangbusters. We also get an English and Spanish subtitle option.
EXTRAS: I heard the trailer was on this disk but I couldn’t find it. Here’s what I got.
INTERVIEWS: All of these on-set snippets last between 30-60 seconds. On characters: AJ Cook, Claire Keim, Ryan Northcott and Kelly Brook speak about their respective roles. On Jack The Ripper: John Eyres talks about Jack The Ripper and how he included some facts in his film. Why people like scary movies: Bruce Payne gives us his two cents as to why he thinks folks dig the horror genre. He seems like a kool dude. On making a horror movie: AJ Cook and Kelly Brook talk about the hardships of making a genre flick. On script: Claire Keim and Derek Hamilton talk about what appealed to them in regards to the flick’s script. How this film differs from others: Bruce Payne talks about what this movie sets to accomplish. John Eyres and screenwriter also add their two cents. On John Eyres: Derek Hamilton and AJ Cook Ryan Northcoott praise their director.
COMMENTARY: Eyres gives us insight on the real Ripper and how he used the facts in his films. We also get lots of information on the production, the locations, the hardships of shooting in specific conditions and the director’s muddled intention in respect to the ending of the film. On a negative note, there’s some dead time, Eyres mumbles a lot and doesn’t speak loud enough. Jack up that volume!
This turd aims higher than the usual teen slasher fare and I respect that but it falls flat on its under-developed, pretentious face. I don’t care how much eye-candy you slap my way, that doesn’t change the poor content and the frustrating ending that strongly confirms what a waste of time this crap really is. My advice: find the “Ripper” script online, print it out and wipe your “arse” with it. How’s that for a twist? That’s the end of my letter…I need a drink…
This waste of time was filmed in Victoria, Vancouver BC.
The script’s original ending couldn’t be shot due to budget constraints so the director and the editor banged a new one and that’s the one we got. IT SHOWS!
Screenwriter Pat Bermel who wrote Ripper also wrote the decent “Stag”.