Warning: This review includes small spoilers to this film as well as to some of the previous "Hellraiser" films.
The fifth entry to the "Hellraiser" series, "Hellraiser: Inferno" (2000) actually has very little to do with "Hellraiser" - which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Clive Barker's original "Hellraiser" of 1987 is one of the greatest and scariest Horror masterpieces ever made, and the 1988 sequel "Hellbound" was also a fantastic Horror film. As most of Horror cinema in general, however, the series worsened in the 90s, with the silly third part "Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth" (1992) and in the fourth film "Hellraiser: Bloodline", the Cenobites, once the most menacing, invincible and hellish Horror creatures imaginable, had lost their scariness and become jokesters that could be beaten by nerdy computer geeks.
"Hellraiser: Inferno" includes only very short and insignificant appearances of the Cenobites, and that is a good thing, as the film therefore doesn't further disrupt their creepiness, which parts 3 and 4 did. In my book, it is also a bonus that "Hellraiser: Inferno" is completely humor-less. It IS possible for great Horror films to be humorous and scary, as masterpieces like the "Evil Dead" films and the "Re-Animator" films prove. However, there was an annoying tendency in the 90s that iconic Horror figures, such as Freddy Krueger, would become 'funny' and would constantly crack 'coool' one-liners. This annoying tendency sadly included the third and fourth "Hellraiser" films, and it is therefore very refreshing that "Hellraiser: Inferno" isn't trying to be funny.
"Hellraiser: Inferno" is actually a decent thriller about a murder series, that mainly suffers from having to fit in the Hellraiser-scheme. Therefore, the film includes elements from the previous films. and some scenes with the Cenobites, which frankly have nothing to do with the rest of the film. It is obvious that the scenes with the Cenobites here were only thrown in in order to justify calling the film "Hellraiser" and in order to credit Doug Bradley as his iconic character Pinhead. Otherwise, the film is quite suspenseful and atmospheric.
Det. Joseph Thorne (Craig Sheffer), a highly intelligent homicide detective who is plagued by bizarre nightmares, investigates a series of sadistic murders. The murderer always leaves a child's finger at the crime scenes. All the murders are somehow connected to a phantom crime kingpin called "The Engineer"...
Director Scott Derrickson, who would later direct "The Exorcism of Emily Rose", does a good job creating tension and atmosphere. Unfortunately, the Cenobites-sequences, which really have nothing to do with the rest of the plot make the film somewhat messy. The violence is pretty brutal, and the makeup and gore effects are very well-done (as in all "Hellraiser" films). Leading man Craig Sheffer is a good actor and he is believable as the protagonist, who is highly intelligent, but treats everybody else like an ass. James Remar, who is probably best known for his role in the great show "Dexter", is great in the role of the police psychologist. Doug Bradley is always magnificent in his role of Pinhead; as mentioned above, however, the role is superfluous in this film, and only thrown in to attract viewers.
Overall, "Hellraiser: Inferno" can in no way compare to the masterpiece original and the fantastic first sequel "Hellbound", but, for my money, it is a lot better than "Hell on Earth" and "Bloodline". This certainly isn't a must-see, but definitely a good time-waster that might appeal to Horror fans. To see greatness, stick to "Hellraiser" and "Hellbound".
3 out of 4 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.