Before we even begin to dissect the latest outing from the Hellraiser franchise, we must first look to its writer and director, Gary J Tunnicliffe.
If ever there was a guy completely immersed in the world of Pinhead and his fellow cenobites it’s Tunnicliffe.
Having provided the make up effects for all the Hellraiser films since Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, Tunnicliffe has also written the previous instalment, written and directed the surprisingly decent short, No More Souls: One Last Slice of Sensation. Hell, he’s even played a cenobite in one of the movies.
Now he turns his attention to the director’s chair, which may have horror enthusiasts a little concerned due to the fact that he’s only really dealt with kid friendly films outside of Hellraiser.
But the very fact that he has been so integral to the look and feel of this world, would lead you to believe that he could very well be the man for the job…
However, as much as Judgement is his movie and the look and feel of it is actually quite beautiful and gloriously bloody in places, it never manages to lift itself from the straight-to-video Budget that we find ourselves.
Ignoring, (if at all possible) that Doug Bradley once again has been left in the darkest recesses of the Leviathan’s domain, never to be Pinhead again.
Instead, we’re left with Paul T. Taylor to take on the notorious role, and although he does an ample enough job, it just never feels right, and you’re left hungry for more as a result.
We are treated to a mere 15 seconds or so of Heather Langenkamp playing the landlady of one of the victims, but her presence is soon forgotten as we forced back into the somewhat rickety plot line.
Speaking of which, here is my main grief about this picture.
We’re treated to a fairly decent beginning, introduced to a character called The Auditor, (played by Tunnicliffe) as he goes around reaping the world of demented souls through a fairly grotesque and torturous process, much to the delight of fans no doubt.
The Auditor soon becomes secondary as we follow two brother detectives and a third female detective as they try and uncover who this serial killer is.
The more we deviate away from the sexual, violent, and depraved world of The Auditor, the cheaper and less authentic the film becomes.
Ever since we were introduced to Craig Sheffer’s Detective Joseph Thorne in Hellraiser: Inferno, it feels like filmmakers are compelled to include some downtrodden and beaten detective into the fold, as they try to uncover clues into the hidden world.
This feels to me like it’s completely missing the point of Clive Barker’s original creation.
Detailing people’s obsession with searching for the ultimate in satisfaction and pleasure; pushing themselves beyond the state of ecstasy into a world of no return.
It is this compulsive, addictive personality that is sadly lacking in these later films, and because of this, Pinhead feels more like a voyeur in his own land, and unable to enact the sheer desolation that sent chills to the bone from the original movie.
It’s a brave attempt to lure people back into the world we came to love, but Tunnicliffe’s vision starts with a good pulse, but whimpers out and dies as he drowns in the history of previous outings.
As a result, we’re forever shackled to the walls without ever feeling like we’ve had our souls torn apart.
Instead, like Pinhead throughout this movie, we’re left wallowing and yearning for the days of yore.
– Saul Muerte