• Hellraiser: Judgement

    Released by: Lionsgate Entertainment
    Released on: February 13th, 2018.
    Director: Gary J. Tunnicliffe
    Cast: Heather Langenkamp, Randy Wayne, Rheagan Wallace, Paul T. Taylor, Damon Carney, Gary J. Tunnicliffe, Alexandra Harris
    Year: 2018
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    The Movie:

    Before the opening credits of writer/director Gary J. Tunnicliffe’s Hellraiser: Judgment begin, we get a scene where Pinhead (Paul T. Taylor) speaks with The Auditor (Tunnicliffe himself) about the place of sin in the modern world and the best ways that they can continue to essentially harvest souls in the modern age. It’s an awkward intro that doesn’t necessarily promise great or even good things to come but stick with it – because the atrocity exhibition that Tunnicliffe throws at us right afterwards is genuinely unsettling in an over done Nine Inch Nails video sort of way.

    From there, we meet up with two brothers, Sean (Damon Carney) and David Carter (Randy Wayne), both employed as police detectives. Their latest case is to track down and deal with a Biblically inspired serial killer dubbed The Preceptor. The investigation isn’t going as well as any would like, the bodies continue to pile up, so a third cop named Christine Egerton (Alexandra Harris) is brought in to work with them. Meanwhile, The Preceptor continues to work away at his quest to commit a series of murders each inspired by The Ten Commandments.

    Elsewhere, The Auditor questions a child molester while Pinhead pontificates on his position and his calling. The threads of the two separate stories tie together in interesting and sometimes genuinely unexpected ways before it’s all over, resulting in an interesting film that combines elements from earlier entries in the franchise with serial killer films like Se7en and supernatural spook shows like The X-Files.

    Not surprisingly, there’s good and there’s bad here. Let’s get the bad out of the way with first. There are times when the movie feels like it’s borrowing a little too heavily from the Saw franchise. This doesn’t overpower everything else but if you’ve seen even one of those films, odds are pretty good you’ll see the connection here too. Additionally, the film was clearly made on a modest budget. The Hellraiser films have always been as visually dark as they are thematically dark but Tunnicliffe’s is almost constantly shrouded in shadows to the point where you start to wonder how much if this is to keep things murky enough to hide what needed to be hidden. Lastly, and perhaps inevitably, there’s some obvious fan service in the film, some of which probably could have been excised to the film’s betterment.

    Having said all of that, this is one of the best Hellraiser films in years. Tunnicliffe does not shy away from the strong gore that’s been a part of the series since the first installment, and the effects that are featured in some of these scenes are creative and usually (though not always) convincing enough to work. On top of that, while he leaves things open for another follow up – which every horror franchise seems contractually obligated to do to a certain extent – he manages to build on the existing mythology in ways that make sense and do some interesting things with characters both old and new. There was clearly quite a bit of thought put into it. On top of that, Paul T. Taylor is excellent as Pinhead. When Stephan Smith Collins replaced Doug Bradley in 2011’s Hellraiser: Revelations it was clear from the moment he came on screen that, despite the fact that he’s a good actor, he was wrong for the part. It just didn’t work. That doesn’t happen with Taylor, he fits really well. He’s pensive and dark and brooding and he looks great under the makeup. When you replace an actor as iconic as Bradley was in the role, it’s important to do it right and Taylor does it right. It’s also interesting to see a few other Cenobite characters return in the film.

    This doesn’t hold a candle to the first two films, but it does bring enough interesting and new elements to the series to make this well worth checking out for fans of the series.


    The AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer of the digitally shot film is framed at 1.78.1 widescreen and presented on a 50GB disc. It looks very good, replicating the film’s noticeably dark color scheme well while still retaining plenty of depth, detail and texture in the image. There’s obviously no print damage to not but the disc is well authored and free of compression artifacts. There’s been a lot of obvious digital tinkering in post-production to give certain scenes a specific look, this sometimes softens the image, but when it’s part of the movie’s intended look it’s not really a problem. The movie looks quite good here.

    The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, in the film’s native English, is a strong one. The sound design in the film is strong and forceful, often using ambient noise at a low frequency to enhance tension and mood quite effectively. This’ll give your subwoofer plenty to work with and it is often spread out into the surround channels rather well. Dialogue stays clean and clear, the score is strong without overpowering anything it shouldn’t overpower and as you’d expect from such a recent film the levels are properly balanced and the track is free of hiss or distortion. Optional subtitles are provided in English SDH and Spanish, but no alternate language tracks are available.

    Extra features are slim, limited to seven-minutes of deleted/extended scenes and a four-minute gag reel. Trailers for a few other Lionsgate properties play before the main menus load, which also offer chapter selection. The disc comes packaged with an insert for a Digital HD download of the movie and with a cardboard slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    Hellraiser: Judgement is one of the better sequels to follow in the wake of the first two classic films – a return to form, if you will. Lionsgate’s Blu-ray is disappointingly light on extra features but it does look and sound quite good. Fans of the franchise should consider this release recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!