Origins are commonplace in the cinematic world, the many times we have seen literary giants like Dracula and Batman have their fabled starts depicted? Yet we consistently ask, neigh expect for these tales to be told again, or in certain cases be told initially. In 1996, one household Cenobite got to have his origins, as well as his final stand, chronicled on the big screen. In Hellraiser 4: Bloodline.
Set in the future year of 2127, deep aboard a space station, the ship’s engineer has apparently gone Rouge. When charged with sabotage, the accused Dr Merchant starts to detail the legend of his bloodline. The film then delves into the dark origins of the Lament Configuration, in France during the 1700s as a toymaker, Phillip LeMarchand, unknowingly crafted a portal to hell. Attempting to counteract the Lament Configuration with another one that could work against the sadistic monster. It is now up to his descendants, far into the future to undo his terrible mistake, to use the new Configuration to send Pinhead et al. back to the depths of hell.
I like the change of scenery with the 90s-depiction-of-the-far-future inspired ship, The Minos, and the fully realised 18th century France. Each location providing a different setting and creative challenge, which the film meets rather well. As previously elaborated in the second Hellraiser review, delving into the lore is a rich vein for storytelling potential, and Hellraiser IV exploits this vein splendidly. The multi-period feel of Hellraiser IV is an added treat and is a prophetic hint at the future of the franchise, still, here it allows the audience to be told three interesting stories in one package. The film also picks up and runs with the cliff-hanger that Hellraiser III left it, with a fully constructed skyscraper/Lament Configuration. This serves the portion of the film that covers the films contemporary setting of 1996, and a pleasant bridge for its acts.
The canon of Cenobites has a new addition with one Angelique. It would not be Hellraiser without a tragic and gripping origin, and Bloodline delivers. Actress Valentina Vargas manages to convey the new character well, still, her character’s philosophy is an interesting change of pace to the established Cenobite viewpoints, as opposed to just looking cool like in Hellraiser III. Joining both Angelique, and the returning Doug Bradley as Pinhead is a young Adam Scott, who is a nice addition to the cast, as Jacques. It is also wonderful to see Bruce Ramsay demonstrate his range with up to three characters for each period.
Covering the start and apparent end of the Hellraiser mythos, Bloodline is an effective conclusion to the decade long saga, while still setting the stage wide open for interquels, and unrelated stories, for the inventive cinematic universe to mould. As a beginning, middle, and end, Hellraiser manages to bring in a lot of new, while resolving the old. For three stories in one, Bloodlines shows that the Lament Configuration can still be a lot of fun.
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