As a long-time fan of the Hellraiser franchise, I had to watch this one. But I was hesitant to do so after the saturation of not-so-great Hellraiser movies. I’m not saying they’re complete garbage—some of them have their own charm—but the first two resonate with me in a way none of the others can.
If you haven’t read Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart I strongly encourage you to!
I won’t say that Judgment was the worst of the franchise. But I think it doesn’t belong there.
First off, any Hellraiser without Doug Bradley as Pinhead just doesn’t work for me. When the same actor has played a character for so long, it’s a hell of a thing to try and get the same effect with another actor. No matter their skill, it just isn’t the same. Another actor playing Pinhead is like someone other than Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine. No matter how badass they are at the role, the original character has been the same actor for way too long for it to really work.
I will say this, Paul Taylor didn’t do a bad job as Pinhead. He had kind of a Doug Bradley look and his voice and tone weren’t a deterrent to his performance. I was less disappointed with him than I thought I’d be. But like I said, I can’t see Pinhead as anyone but Doug Bradley.
There are some great things about this movie. And some not so great things as well.
The trailer for it looked promising, though I didn’t trust it. My mistrust was justified. The entire trailer is made up of snippets from the first 15 minutes of the film, which really, was the only truly enjoyable part of the experience. It then goes into a long, slow, boring story about some detectives investigating a serial killer. That’s the first place this movie went wrong. Too much talk, not enough… anything else.
If you manage to stay awake through the dialogue that doesn’t carry any real weight to the story, you’ll get to see some scenes that are worthwhile.
The man with the cut-up face and dark glasses was a great character! He was probably the best part of the entire movie. At first I wasn’t sure if he was human or a cenobite, and to be honest I’m still not completely sure. No spoilers, but I’m leaning more towards one of those conclusions than the other.
The entire idea of that character and his role in the story was the only thing that made Hellraiser: Judgment worth watching. If the story revolved around him it probably would have been a better movie. They focused too much on the less interesting aspects of the story (as well as trying to make it a Hellraiser movie by throwing bits and pieces of its history in without any true meaning). I won’t spoil it for you, but there were some really great ideas that were wasted.
I think if they removed the cenobites, took the name Hellraiser out of the title completely, and got rid of the boring dialogue, it could have been a great film. On its own, it had potential. Hellraiser: Judgment’s biggest downfall is that they slapped the franchise onto a movie that could have done well on its own. Excuse the pun, but that brought judgment down hard on a movie that might not have been looked at so harshly otherwise.
If you’re a die-hard fan of Hellraiser, you’re probably not going to like how it ends. I certainly did not. There’s only one positive side to its ending: they can’t do it again…
But don’t let my bad review stop you from enjoying this film. I enjoyed some of it (it really did have some good scenes), but it was a watch-once and never bother with it again deal for me. My best advice, see it for yourself and pass your own judgment.
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