Notable Cast: Damon Carney, Randy Wayne, Alexandra Harris, Heather Langenkamp, Paul T. Taylor, Gary J. Tunnicliffe, John Gulager, Mike Jay Regan, Helena Grace Donald
The Hellraiser franchise has seen its ups and downs and, depending to who you talk to, has been on a downward spiral for decades. Personally, the franchise has always held a special spot for me as a genre fan, but even then, it’s easy to see its faults and some of them are unforgivable. When the franchise hit a new low with the last entry, Hellraiser: Revelations, which existed solely for the purpose of rights renewal for Dimension Films, it seemed as though the Hellraiser franchise’s days were numbered. When Hellraiser: Judgment was announced, the sour taste of Revelations remained, and then when the film met substantial delays - to the point where it seemed questionable that the film would ever get a release - it didn’t help out matters or initial opinions for fans. However, here we are in 2018 and Hellraiser: Judgment finally gets a release and, comparatively speaking to the last handful of entries, it’s not too bad. The film uses the Hellraiser formula, but gives it a slightly more updated tone and it tries to maximize its lower budget to give fans what they want to varying degrees of success. Judgment is not one of the best of the franchise, but it’s hardly one of the worst either.
|My face when they announced this film.|
There are a few things that are a bit harder to overlook for the more critical fans out there. Hellraiser: Judgment is still pretty low budget and the constraints of that can be felt in some of the scope that it shaved for the sake of a smoother narrative. Instead of giving the film the kind of dark operatic tone that some of the previous entries handle so well, the film attempts to go big in some areas (even going so far as to try and build a concept that Pinhead, who once again acts more as a guide and final judge of torment than a slasher killer, is only half of an equation that is balanced out by something angelic), but it can’t embrace those with the budget it has. The low budget and straight to home video tone also comes into play as the film tends to forego many of the secondary plots, particularly with the main protagonist’s partners and their own character arcs, for the sake of streamlining the entire experience. There’s a lot of interesting depth that is hinted at in its script, but the writing, execution, and budgetary limits don’t allow the film to truly explore those like it might have.
|Rough nights, short life.|