One last time into the breach.
This new attempt at revitalizing the series may or may not be yet another ashcan, but it is a bit better than Revelations. Then again, surpassing the previous film is a low bar. This one begins with Pinhead and the Auditor (taxes are scary, y’all) complaining the the Lament Configuration is not as appealing thanks to technology. Pinhead is now a grandpa who is afraid of technology. I wish I was joking.
Our two grandpas send snail mail to get people to come to an address, tie them up, make them say their sins, and the Auditor types on an old-timey-typewriter the details. Not joking! Then the assessor comes in to read over the papers—and eat them (don’t worry, he seasons them with tears of children first). He then vomits the papers into a series of tubes where it leads to a feeding trough where three topless Cenobites eat it. Not kidding! Then they torture the shit out of the dude and kill him. How is this more streamlined then the Puzzle Box?
The film then transitions to another stupid detective hunts a serial killer story—but more on that in a minute. The opening of the film is dumb, but is at least interesting. The nonsense presents a demented view of hell (though the reasoning is a little lacking). If the entire film would have just been this crazy macabre torture fest it would have been a lot better.
The serial killer this time around is called the Preceptor, for stupid reasons. He models his crimes off the Ten Commandments, and the staging of the crimes will remind you of a better film called Se7en. Come to think of it, if the first portion sounds interesting, just watch Baskin instead.
We follow three cops. Two are brothers, yet they look nothing alike and being brothers seems completely unimportant to the plot. The similarities between this plot and Se7en don’t ever really go away, but cramming in discussions of high literature do not make the film any better—in fact it just seems to make Dickens worse. The third cop is shoehorned in to stomp on the brothers’ fun, or to give us an exposition machine. Probably just an exposition machine. Definitely.
Some of the ideas present in the film aren’t terrible. The crimes are twisted, and do keep you at least halfway interested in the story. The problem is that it has all been seen and done before.
Christine (the new to the group detective) isn’t bad, and neither is younger brother David. If it were just the two of them the film might work a bit better. Older brother Sean with his brooding bullshit just drags every scene down. Why would they choose to focus on this aspect so much? We all know why they did…
Of course Sean is the killer. Why would they mix up the formula? What’s the old saying: if it is broken and killing a franchise why be original? Also, why spend so much time with Pinhead and the Auditor to have the disappear for a long time? Also, if they would have just had it be a detective story without the dumbass twist the film might be the best sequel since the original two.
It might surprise you to read that this might offer a glimmer of hope for the series. The interpersonal nature of the first film is long gone, but this might be the best Hellraiser since Hellbound even with all of its flaws. Perhaps the biggest flaw is the unneeded twist. If Sean is the killer, then all of the scenes of him investigating are just nonsense. It isn’t clever writing; it is crappy development. I liked the Auditor, and the expansions of the lore are interesting. As much as the film retreads old ground via the plot, it is also the first to really go deeper into the world of Hellraiser.
There is a lot of good and bad here. I know a lot of folks hated this one, and really hated the intervention from an angel (yes, that was stupid), but I didn’t hate it as much as everyone else. Yes, the addition of angels forces a dualistic spiritual realm onto this series, and that comes with its own problems. Yes, the effects are a bit weak, and yes, there is a lot of cheese. However, this is the first one that isn’t terrible in a long time. Perhaps with a larger budget this team could actually revitalize the series—though I doubt that will happen. With this franchise it seems to be one step forward and then seven steps back. Maybe in 2050 we will get another decent one.
I suppose I should mention the new Pinhead. He does okay, and is certainly better than the last one. I don’t mind a recast, but I do wish it was Bradley once again.
The ending is weak, and does hurt the film overall. This one is a mixed bag, and I think it will remain a divisive entry. Overall, for me it was the third best Hellraiser. I didn’t think we’d end on a positive note. 6/10