Detectives Sean and David Carter are hot on the trail of a sadistic serial killer dubbed The Preceptor when they stumble upon a bizarre ring of sadism and iniquity that can’t be of this world. Joined by Detective Christine Egerton, the detectives must work to solve the case before The Preceptor claims his next victim.
The film stars Damon Carney (The Hitcher 2007), Randy Wayne (True Blood), Alexandra Harris (The Veil 2017), Paul T. Taylor (Sin City), John Gulagher (Director of Piranha 3DD and Feast), and Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street). Hellraiser Judgment was directed by Gary J. Tunnicliffe who also penned the screenplay for the latest installment in the series.
In spite of some missteps, Hellraiser Judgment is not all that bad. In fact, it’s a decided improvement over the past several direct-to-video installments in the franchise. Gary J. Tunnicliffe has succeeded in breathing new life into a franchise that many assumed was long dead. That’s not to suggest that Judgment is on a par with the first two films but this is definitely a step in the right direction.
As for the missteps, the audience has to suffer through some (at times) substandard thespianism. Grace Montie’s brief turn as a victim of The Preceptor is painful to watch. She turns in the kind of performance you’d expect to see on Showtime after 10 PM. And, unfortunately, she has several minutes of solo screentime. On the plus side, Damon Carney, Randy Wayne, and Alexandra Harris turn in passable performances as the three detectives. Carney does get a little hammy towards the end but it’s nothing unbearable.
Another downside to the film is that the twist is on the predictable side. Some viewers may not see it coming but I thought it was a little too obvious. It’s a trope we’ve seen time and again and it’s not exactly expertly executed here.
Moving on from the missteps, one of the things I liked about Judgment is that it actually works well as both a Hellraiser picture and a police procedural. Oftentimes, it feels as though a film that fits into two such different classifications suffers from an identity crisis. But not in this case. Both sides of the story are equally compelling and ultimately intersect at the right time.
I was also pleasantly surprised by Paul T. Taylor’s turn as Pinhead. No one will ever be Doug Bradley. But Taylor clearly poured his heart and soul into the character and it’s a significant improvement over Stephan Smith Collins’ attempt to step into the role in Hellraiser: Revelations.
Hellraiser Judgment certainly has its ups and downs. But it’s a definite improvement over several of the previous direct-to-video installments. Fans of the franchise should certainly give this one a chance. It’s a stronger effort than we’ve seen from the series in some time and may just serve to help the franchise get back on track.
Special features on the film’s Blu-ray release include deleted scenes and a gag reel. You can pick up your copy beginning today.
WICKED RATING: 5.5/10
Director(s): Gary J. Tunnicliffe
Writer(s): Gary J. Tunnicliffe
Stars: Damon Carney, Randy Wayne, Alexandra Harris, and Paul T. Taylor
Release Date: February 13th (Blu-Ray)
Studio/ Production Co: Dimension, LionsGate