Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me, Fool me eight times then either you or me are going to accident and emergency with their teeth in a bucket.
You would think that with the constant downward level of competence shown by every Hellraiser movie from Hell on Earth to 2011's Revelations, that there would be nothing left to strip mine from the glory of the first two films. But never fear the actors, producers, scriptwriter, and the director have managed to piece together the last little scraps of meat dangling from Pinheads discarded hooks into what has to hopefully be the final nail in the coffin of this franchise.
Following on from Scarlet Gospels and The Toll Hellraiser: Judgement proves without a doubt that there is no life left in this beast. Why anyone would bother with this franchise now that Barker has lost all interest in it is beyond this reviewers power of reasoning. To go from groundbreaking a novella, and two classic films to this turgid, unoriginal mishmash of poorly executed rip-offs of so many far superior films is heartbreaking.
The once mighty and elegant Prince of Pleasure and Pain has been reduced, mainly in part from Paul .T. Taylor's ghastly performance, where he confuses acting regal like with acting as though you are suffering from terrible wind and indigestion. It is also in part down to the scriptwriters who have reduced Pinehead to being akin to some almost forgotten actor appearing as the guest of the week on Midsummer Murders. While he was never going to another Doug Bradley, it would have been a good idea to inject the character and the performance with just the smallest dose of panache, rather than reducing him to just another typical monster in yet another dull old horror film.
At least his performance doesn't stand out too much from everyone else in the film. It is as though they had a checklist of the blandest and most cliched characters and went shopping at Discount Performances are Us, browbeat weary cop - CHECK, upbeat partner -CHECK, spunky new partner assigned to the case - CHECK, CHECK and TRIPLE CHECK. Lacklustre performances, terrible dialogue and leaden directing make this a real chore to sit through, and that's even before we talk about the plot.
Why, when you have source material such as the first two films, the novella, and the comics, material that at times has been visionary, genre-breaking and enlightening, do you turn in such a badly executed and plotted film. Why would you stitch pieces of Seven, Jigsaw, Manhunter, and countless other far superior films into this patchwork Hellraiser pastiche? Do you hate the genre so much, are you trying to kill the last vestiges of interest in it? Either way, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Whoever thought, "I know what the hell needs, it needs a bunch of pointless bureaucratic middle managers" really should be taken outside and have their souls torn apart, as a warning to anyone else with bright ideas.
I never expected the Spanish Inquisition, at least they had their chief weapon of surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Their two weapons, fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Their *three* weapons, a fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... They're *four*...no... *Amongst* their weapons.... Amongst t weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again.
All the Stygian Inquisition has is total inefficiency, redundant members and needed to show half-naked women and to cover them in blood in some thinly veiled metaphor for a bukkake cum shot for no apparent reason.
Take the Assessor, for example, a demon whose sole purpose is to assess the souls and lives of those brought before the Stygian Inquisition.
(SPOILER ALERT HERE)
One could safely assume that over the course of human evolution that this bloke would have evaluated a hell of a lot of really nasty and vile souls, souls of people who have done things so bad that they could make a Georgia man cry. And yet when he assesses the soul of one of the principle characters his response to the assessment is to throw his guts up and cause the whole system to go into meltdown. Are we really to believe that this one is eviler than every other soul that has gone before, or do we just sit back and allow this lazy method of plot development to go over our heads? Either way, I get the feeling that the filmmakers don't care for either the fans or the source material.
They offer nothing to the mystique of the world of Hellraiser and feel as though their only reason for being was they made for a way to cut down on the makeup costs. Which brings us to the beautiful set design, and by that I am wearing my sarcasm hat, and matching socks. For a film that spends so much time in Hell, you'd think they would maybe, just maybe throw some money to the set designers so they can make it look like something we might actually believe in, not a chance. Instead, they have decided to accessorise Hell from the Ikea's marketplace. Those stupid brass lightbulbs that every steampunk fan has in their livingroom with the oversized filaments looked god awful three years ago when they first came out, and now that every hipster beard joint is decked out ion them they just look dickish. Well down for decking out Hell with these, and it was a nice touch to get the matching set of chairs from IKEA as well. It may seem like a petty point, but when a film is this bad, you start to notice all the little things that you would let slide in a better film. I get that money was tight, so surely you don't waste it on fixtures and fittings, that just make your film look even more budget price.
It's sad to see a franchise go from being provocative, sensual, and disturbing, to dull, cliched and safe, and with Hellraiser: Judgement it has plummeted to even greater depths, but perhaps its greatest crime is not that it is bad film, and more the case that it ios a pointless film that nobody needed or wanted. Rest In Peace Pinhead you are well and truly dead now.