The world of Pinhead went dark for a couple of years, With the rights saved previously, the studio retreated. Though time has forced their hands again with the same time constraints as Hellraiser 9, yet with far more creative freedom to set the story apart. In 2018, a vision for a true sequel for the Hellraiser franchise, by a long-time collaborator, was given a chance to fill that void, in Hellraiser Judgment.
When a serial killer, who is taking cues from 10 commandments, wreaks havoc, detective brothers, Sean & David Carter, are called into the scene. They make a good team, but their synergy is threatened by a potential love triangle with another partner. As they investigate, Sean encounters The Stygian Inquisition, an organisation from hell who are at loggerheads with the famed Cenobites. As this case gets intertwined, the forces of good and evil might be forced into their civil wars.
I like the inclusion of Heather Langenkamp as a cameo landlady, the door is open for more universe crossovers. But the real star must be Gary J. Tunnicliffe, as this whole film is a passion project made by a crew member who has worked on the franchise for over two decades. The mythology of the Hellraiser world has been greatly expanded on by Tunnicliffe, with new orders outsides the one of the Gish. The peculiar ways they conduct themselves and conflict with the Cenobites is a joy to watch.
Judgement did not have as much of a budget as the series is used to but more than made up for it with its atmosphere of dread and distortion, the decrepit hovels where the Stygian Inquisition operates masterfully utilise the sets and location. If you have seen Se7en and Spawn, a lot here may seem familiar with its procedural aspects. The biblical kills heavily spring to mind, especially in the ‘killers introduction’. Yet the visceral and disturbing operations of the Stygian Inquisition are shown with a grungy and raw feel that evokes The ABCs of deathThe ABCs of Death (2012) with its same budget constraints and ingenuity.
As the current crop of Hellraiser reaches its end, a feeling that the franchise still has a lot to offer, the film greatly expands on ideas from over two decades ago, Just hinting at the wider possibilities in-store, now that hell has more company. On its own, Judgement is one of those films that shows how certain limitations can be a windfall for creativity. It succeeds in making you feel uncomfortable, like the world of light and good are far away. All while drawing you into an engaging procedural/love triangle tale. For what it gives you, it would be hard to judge the film poorly.
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