Friday, 9 March 2018

Hellraiser: Judgment (2018)






Synopsis

Detectives Sean and David Carter are on the case to find a gruesome serial killer terrorizing the city. Joining forces with Detective Christine Egerton, they dig deeper into a spiraling maze of horror that may not be of this world.

Review

We're many years in since we had a Hellraiser movie that was supposed to be a Hellraiser movie. Is this obsolete. Irrelevant. In an age when desire has become amplified but where lust can be sated electronically, we need something more than just a wooden box?

55 Ludovico Place, Cricklewood, London, England.

The Cotton House.

I'm not going to use the term reboot, because I don't think it is (more on that in the "where this leaves us"), so I'll review this as a semi-continuation of the rest of the series. The film begins with Pinhead, now played by Paul T. Taylor (Super), discussing the state of affairs of Cenobites (see the quote above) with new character addition The Auditor, played by the Director himself, Gary J. Tunnicliffe (who has worked extensively with the franchise since part III). And it sort of fits. The two are discussing how the excess of the world post Y2K is a different place and how the lure of the box is no longer enough, and that they should seek out the worst of human kind. Then we are treated to 10 minutes of absolute squick, with Mr. Watkins (a child abuser/killer) being lured to a house, interrogated by the Auditor, processed by the Assessor, a verdict brought by the Jury, and then sentencing. All of which ends with Watkins being skinned alive by the Butcher and the Surgeon.




While having no direct connection to the events of the rest of the movie, it introduces the characters, gives us brief insight into what happens when you enter the Lament, and parallels the opening statement. "In an age when desire has become amplified but where lust can be sated electronically, we need something more than just a wooden box?" The scene is laid out on a platter to the viewer reminiscent of the opening of the original Hellraiser - it's new, it's different, and it is reviling. I remember seeing the original and being disgusted by it. This had the same feeling. It's different from "Hellraiser" because it has to be.

Times have changed.

Then we move to the story proper. Two detectives, Sean Carter and David Carter, played by Damon Carney (Logan) and Randy Wayne (Death Pool) respectively are hunting for a serial killer by the name of The Preceptor. They are joined quickly by Christine Egerton, played by Alexandra Harris (The Veil) because those in charge don't think the boys are doing a good job - but we'll keep the main story thread spoiler free as usual.

So does it work?




The film is obviously on a tight budget - much as the previous installments have been, but in this case it's no bad thing. Director Tunnicliffe has used small sets and visceral filming techniques to his advantage, and particularly the scenes set in the Cenobites courtroom, it feels very personal. Which helps to make it scary. Tunnicliffe himself is very good (actually quite excellent) as the Auditor - especially when you consider his lack of acting credentials. Obviously the question on everyone's lips is whether Paul T. Taylor carries off Pinhead. I'm happy to say yes, he does. It's a commanding performance, he has presence.

The main plot thread of the serial killer is engaging enough. Carney brings an intense performance as Sean, very much, the cop on the edge. He's given a back story and is an engaging character. Wayne is given less to do, and somehow manages to channel a young Brad Pitt in his performance, which is interesting. The whole serial killer plot feels a little like a callback to Inferno, especially with the occasional break in reality for the Cenobites to pop up in.

So overall, it's a good film. It feels like Hellraiser, but a new, different, Hellraiser. One perhaps for a more modern, harder to shock audience.

Of course, it does have it's flaws.

While most of the effects are very good, we're introduced to other Cenobites - one of which is original Chatterer, and sadly the makeup effect is not pulled off very well. As the film is so reminiscent of classic Hellraiser, it's quite jarring.

Because of the style of the movie, we see little in the way of Cenobites, um, 'cenobiting' (?), which is a shame. And for some reason Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street) gets a walk on cameo, but extremely high billing. Star power for the marketing, I suppose, but it didn't need it.

Overall it's a good intro to what I hope will be a new series of films. There are things here that I haven't discussed, because there will be a "Where This Leaves Us" video, that will perhaps explore some of the connections and ties between this film and the rest of the franchise.

It's dark, disturbing, and fun. It's not a traditional Hellraiser movie, but maybe the franchise needed a kick. Well worth the watch - with an open mind. Embrace the change.





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