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Hellraiser V: Inferno (2000)

Here we begin the journey into "unrelated" Hellraiser movies, turning the series into more of a collection of movies, an anthology, perhaps. Even the poster states "Another terrifying chapter in the Hellraiser legacy".

And what a mixed bag they are.

As Inferno is unrelated to the previous movie, we'll ignore that between present day and 2127, Pinhead was seen to be bumbling around with Angelique and the Twins. So don't mention that. Or, actually, anything that the series has taught us to date. We begin with Det. Joseph Thorne (Craig Scheffer - Night Breed), a police officer who is cheating on his wife, on the take, ready to frame his partner...the list really does go on. Our protagonist is a dick. Anyway, he investigates a crime scene when he finds the Lament Configuration, takes it, and after sleeping with prostitute Daphne in a motel room, opens it. Okay, so we're Hellraisering a little quicker. That's always a win.

Opening the box Thorne is suddenly somewhere else, being sexually traumatized by cenobites Wire Twin #1 and Wire Twin #2 (not to be confused with the twins from the previous movie) - meets with Chatterer (who is now sans legs) and bumps into Pinhead. When Pinhead attacks, Thorne awakens on the floor of the bathroom where he opened the box. Not actually a bad start.

Craig Scheffer and a very different set of twins

Sadly from here to plunges into a mess. Thorne returns to work, taking a call from Daphne screaming that she's in some sort of trouble. Thorne and partner Det. Tony Nenonen (Nicholas Turturro - NYPD Blue) return to the motel to investigate and find the woman dead. Thorne pursuades Nenonen not to tell anyone that he was there the night before, but plants evidence that could frame his partner later, should he need to. Following clues found at the scene, Thorne discovers that the killer is a man named The Engineer.

They then cat and mouse for a large chunk of the movie. The Engineer is known well by a psychiatrist, Dr. Gregory. The Engineer kills Thorne's informant. Thorne has strange dreams and visions of The Engineer killing his parents, and his wife and child.

When we reach conclusion, Pinhead reveals himself, to explain that The Engineer is Thorne, well, actually everyone is Thorne...sort of, and Thorne has been in Hell since he opened the box at the beginning of the movie being punished for past deeds. Pinhead then tears Thorne apart with his chains, and the whole process starts again. Sort of, purgatory.

Pinhead is unimpressed

The main problem Inferno suffers from is the lack of simplicity of the story. Complex narrative is fine, but this film is not complex, it's unnecessarily complicated, and at times the film makers seem to be trying not to tell the viewer things. Sadly, it doesn't work. It's a known fact that Inferno was never written to be a Hellraiser movie, and the studio saved money on levering in Hellraiser mythos into an unrelated work. That isn't going to help. But it also introduces new problems. Pinhead is now some sort of moral guardian. He's punishing Thorne for his acts - that's not what cenobites do.

The film starts well enough. It's not easy pulling off a movie with an unlikable protagonist, but we never find out if this film was going to do it because it devolves so quickly into a mess. And it had some real potential. The cenobites pull it back from the silly creations of the last two movies and are chillingly scary. Scheffer acts better than he has done at other times. The effects are good. Turturro is good. Director Scott Derrickson went on to write and direct the amazing Sinister (and wrote Marvel's Dr. Strange), Bradley does his Pinhead.

But it's not quite enough. And it's a real same.

It's worth watching with a beer, but adds nothing to Barker's creations, and don't try too hard to follow it.

Oh, and if you look closely, Pinhead is naked on the poster. Um, what?

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