Hellraiser: Judgment review – diminishing, misogynist returns for classic franchise

Pinhead is still lurking, but the iconic series’ once-interesting eroticism has degenerated into nasty titillation in this sorry sequel

There have been so many additions to the Hellraiser franchise since the first one debuted in 1987 that we’ve now got to the stage when it’s best not to remind viewers how many there have been, lest the young uns think it’s some kind of musty Gen X thing that just won’t die. Which it kind of is, to be honest. This latest contribution, written and directed by makeup effects specialist Gary J Tunnicliffe, feels like a pretty degraded mutation from the original concept. Where the first few Hellraisers had an interesting if somewhat icky erotic tang to them – alluding to S&M/fetish culture as much as horror, and featuring female protagonists – Judgment is less about desire than just straight-up misogyny and gory, gross-out money shots.

The franchise’s iconic demon Pinhead is back once again (of course), played here by Paul T Taylor. But he’s more of a background presence as an assortment of other demons, including one played by Tunnicliffe himself, take over the business of bedevilling humanity via what sounds like insurance industry-based methods of torture, given they call themselves The Auditor, The Assessor and whatnot. Among the living, the main characters are a trio of cops – two of them brothers Sean (Damon Carney) and David Carter (Randy Wayne), as well as rookie Christine (Alexandra Harris) – who are investigating what seems to be a serial killer case. One of the first victims is a young woman (Grace Montie) who dares to be sexually active, and ends up with her lapdog and mobile phone sewn up inside her body.

Elsewhere, there’s a trio of supernatural vamps who sit in judgment over souls and have fake blood hosed on to their large naked breasts, which I guess is one way to get your jollies. The dialogue is execrable, which partly excuses the inert performances; the sets – including one that looks like a shop’s filament bulb display – are more interesting to look at than the actors.

• Released on 22 February on digital platforms.


Leslie Felperin

The GuardianTramp

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