The second sequel of the Hellraiser franchise marks a stark turning point in the tone of the series.
Remember when the Hellraiser series had interesting and complex characters? Yeah, that shit is long gone in this one.
This time around we have a couple disparate threads that will eventually connect. On the one side we have stereotypical douche rich guy J.P. Monroe who buys the pillar of nonsense from the second one. On the other, we have spunky reporter Joey who just can’t wait for her big break. While the plot does eventually bring these two together, they have been united for a long time by bad acting.
I appreciate the notion that I should have some critical integrity and review this as a stand-alone feature rather than a part of series, but why bother? This is Hellraiser in name only—more or less. We end up with a completely different film tonally. The first two films are contained, atmospheric, and claustrophobic; the third is all about space and new settings. We are introduced to more people in the first fifteen minutes than might be in the first one entirely. We also get dumbass jump scares for no reason, which truly marks the decline of this series.
J.P. Morgan might be one of the most insufferable characters in horror. Joey isn’t much better, but the plot makes us side with her. After witnessing a bizarre death, Joey wants to investigate what happened, which draws her closer to J.P. and his evil (stupid) pillar of nonsense. She is also haunted by nightmares of Vietnam, for some reason. I’m not kidding, this is as abruptly put into the film as it is this review. Sure, it is a recollection of her father’s death, but it is just weird in the movie.
Instead of a slow burner that creeps with atmosphere we get a bunch of boring conversations with Joey and Terri (who witnessed the attack). The stilted acting and overly dramatic dialogue make a lot of the early part of the film cringe worthy. What is sad is that this is considered the last good Hellraiser. I’d move it back, but this one does a little going for it. And that little bit is that Pinhead is front and center.
How you feel about Pinhead in this one might be as complicated as my feelings towards him. On the one hand, they ruined him. On the other, now he is super sassy and funny, so he is kind of awesome. He is no longer a poetic and imposing figure, but instead something more akin to a latter Freddy. This one manages to bring enough camp and cheese to Pinhead to still make it interesting.
After J.P. is bit by a rat, (cause that happens, right?) he splashes blood and the statue, which reawakens Pinhead, who then wants J.P. to feed him women. I am not kidding. Imagine the poetic Pinhead doing this—can you even fathom it? Haha. His dialogue is still interesting, but it does not feel the same in this new setting. He is the highlight of the movie, but it is a new experience.
There is no intimacy in this film. The first two films are about a singular family, and the evil of the box is secondary to their already troubled and disturbing relationship. The personal aspects of the narrative are what made them so special. Here we just have a slasher flick with some cool Hellraiser imagery.
The attempts at personal connections are stupid at best. The people are morons, the scares are heavy-handed and lame, and the new Cenobites are offensively stupid. A dude with a camera for an eye, and another who throws CDs… Once again, not kidding. Yet, through all the stupidity there is a lot of fun ridiculousness. A human Pinhead fighting the demon version, Pinhead in church—probably the funniest part.
We have a chaotic last third that ends with chaos, and another nonsensical ending. So, as a Hellraiser film it kind of sucks. As a horror film it really sucks. As a sort of absurd and funny film with some cool scenes (and a lot of dumb ones), it kind of works. It is worth watching to see how off the rails a series could go. The original feel of Hellraiser is long gone. It just gets weirder from here. Watch for Pinhead, or don’t. It is a messy entry. 4/10
I think the most bizarre part is that Pinhead can now cause explosions… with his mind, dun dun dun, or dumb dumb dumb?