Director – Gary J. Tunnicliffe (Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk)
Starring – Damon Carney (Logan, The Long Ranger), Randy Wayne (Death Pool, True Blood), and Alexandra Harris (In the Shadows, Murder in the First)
Release Date – 2018
Rating – 3.5/5
The Hellraiser series is one of those series where I lose friends. My opinions on the series usually piss people off because most adults can’t stand it when someone else has a different opinion than them on something. I watched the first Hellraiser film in middle school and did not care for it. It was rather boring and predictable. I enjoyed the effects and the lore it created but the delivery was bland. A few years later I rented Hellbound: Hellraiser II, and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth and I absolutely loved them. This prompted me to give the first film another shot and my opinion of the film did not change.
In high school I watched the other Hellraiser films and felt like I wasted a huge chunk of time. When Hellraiser: Judgement was announced I honestly didn’t give a damn. I told a few horror friends that I had no interest in the film and they begged me to give it a chance. I requested a review copy and I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed this installment in the series.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows the cenobites and Stygian Inquisition who have changed their ways of obtaining souls by offering “rewards” and those that seek it are to confess their sins where they are then judged, cleansed, and sentenced. Meanwhile, a pair of detective who are brothers are working on capturing a serial killer known as The Preceptor when they are assigned a third female partner.
While following a lead one of the detective comes across the cenobites new headquarters and he is put through the process where he is revealed to be a tremendous sinner but they are stopped at the last minute by a figure presumed to be an angel. He leaves but his brother and new partner start to piece together clues and discovers that he knows more about the killer than he is letting on.**Spoiler Alert**
Hellraiser has one of the most fascinating stories with so much lore attached to it. Sadly, films rarely explore the other possibilities other than Pinhead torturing those unfortunate enough to unlock the puzzle box. That is why I enjoy parts 2 and 3 more than the first film. We get a bigger glimpse at the lore and other characters outside of Pinhead. Hellraiser: Judgement puts Pinhead in the back seat and dives deeper into the Hellraiser story while unsuccessfully adapting it for the modern age.
The acting in this one is great. The three detectives; Damon Carney, Randy Wayne, and Alexandra Harris all worked well together. Their characters had a lot of depth and they represented them very well on screen. Paul Taylor takes on the role of Pinhead. He’s not a bad Pinhead. He’s no Doug Bradley but he is a hell of a lot better than fat Pinhead from Revelations. My favorite performance and new character is that of Gary Turnicliffe who portrays the Auditor for the Stygian Inquisition. Can’t wait to see where they take this character next.
The story for this one has its ups and down. I really enjoyed the introduction of the Stygian Inquisition and a deeper look into hell with the Cenobites taking the back seat for a bit. There is so much opportunity here and I love how this blended in with the serial killer drama unfolding with the police detectives that reminded me a lot of Se7en.
There was a few things that bugged me. The first being how they attracted new souls. The SI changed things up and started using snail mail with offers of rewards to draw in souls. It’s 2018 and snail mail is the best way to “update” a story? Why not an app promising sex or money like Tindr? A couple little changes would have made this story one of the better Hellraiser films.
Finally, the film has several deaths. The kills are bloody for the most part but the most impressive aspect of this is the practical effects. The Cenobites and Stygian look fantastic. The after math of the kills is also fantastic. Fans of the original film will love the way this one looks. Overall, Hellraiser: Judgement is a great installment in the already popular Hellraiser series. Fans of the first film may not enjoy this one but if you want a Hellraiser story that is more then Cenobite torturing you will like this.