EXCLUSIVE! JUDGMENT Is Not The Hellraiser We Need
In March of 2011 we were given Hellraiser: Revelations, with promises that it was an original script that wasn’t just some story with Pinhead thrown in. Even if it was, that didn’t seem to matter, as the film vastly disappointed fans around the board with a movie shot in two weeks on a budget of $300K in order to keep the franchise rights, to even further the blow, ‘Lead Cenobite’ himself, franchise legend Doug Bradley did not return as Pinhead due to the crazy rushed production.Years passed, talk of a reboot, and another Clive Barker penned remake came and went. Then somewhere a blip on the radar happened as it was announced that longtime series contributor Gary Tunnicliffe, who has worked makeup and effects on every Hellraiser film since III (but unfortunately also wrote Revelations) will be writing and directing the next film, with it specifically being penned as a Hellraiser story, and if you erase Revelations from memory (as I do) it’ll be the first film since Hellraiser: Bloodline to actually be legitimately penned as a legitimate Hellraiser jam.
Hellraiser: Judgement opens with a pretty brutal scene… as we are introduced to ‘The Auditor’ as he readies victims for judgement as to the status of their fate. It’s violent, gooey, and filled with blood, a promising opening before the story shifts to three detectives — Sean Carter, David Carter, and Christine Egerton — who are investigating the brutal murders of a serial killer, only to discover a something very sinister lies before them as the mystery unravels.
There’s a lot to take in here. Let’s pump the brakes real fast and get one thing out of the way first… I don’t think Doug Bradley is ever coming back. I’ve made peace with that and the Hellraiser world is vast with endless possibilities that I’d love to see, and Paul Taylor was suitable, albeit not in it very much. The budget constraints are still here, and the overall feel is much more inline with the Torture Porn aesthetic i.e. a man pukes into a trough and three naked women sift through the vomit to determine someone’s judgement, and a living dog is seen inside the body of one of the murder victims. The gore and effects are very good, despite the budget, and it’s clear that they didn’t really hold back in that category, which I admire.
Now, this was said to be written as an original Hellraiser story and not just another script with pinhead and cenobite thrown in, but it felt like the latter. After the neat intro in a dingy Saw-like house/warehouse setting, the next hour focuses on cops barely investigating a serial killer before ending up in another dingy warehouse setting, and much like many of the later Saw films I just couldn’t fully jive with the police procedural stuff, or the mystery they were trying to solve. I was very excited for this movie, and while my initial response is very lukewarm, I didn’t dislike the movie entirely, there’s a bunch of stuff in here and it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Another viewing going in without hyped up expectations may prove more enjoyable for me.
As someone who hold the first two films in holy grail territory, not to mention a vast love for III AND IV, I’ve been optimistic and hopeful for an enjoyable Hellraiser story, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t enjoy the highly problematic and all around lackluster V-VIII (Yes, even Hellworld!), I still watch all of those movies at least once a year, and Hellraiser: Judgement takes its place alongside those films, that I’ll continue to watch yearly as a constant reminder that one day, we’ll get the Hellraiser film that us lifelong fans want (and at this point, the one we deserve!)
Two Lemarchand boxes out of Five — a step in the right direction.