Review: Hellraiser: Judgment will tear your soul apart


Pinhead and the Cenobites return in Hellraiser: Judgment, now available to own on Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

Hellraiser: Judgment, the latest film from director Gary J. Tunnicliffe (Hansel & Gretel), is the 10th movie in the Hellraiser series and leaves a lot to be desired. The film stars Paul T. Taylor (TV’s “Sheltered,” Alternative Math) as the new Pinhead, along with Randy Wayne (Escape Room, Death Pool), Rheagan Wallace (TV’s “Malcolm in the MIddle”), Damon Carney (Logan), Randy Wayne (Honey 2), Alexandra Harris (Ctrl), and Heather Langenkamp (Star Trek: Into the Darkness, TV’s “Truth or Dare”).

I’m just going to come right out and say it. This movie is bad. Now, before you jump down my throat and ask me why other critics are giving the film a pass, just know that I can’t answer that. To me, Hellraiser: Judgment was a huge mess and a slap in the face to the beloved franchise. Hellraiser commands respect, it’s a right of passage within the horror genre, and a film that deserves the accolades it has received. I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t seen all the sequels that came after Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth, but from what I understand, it’s gone steadily downhill ever since.

So, where did Hellraiser: Judgment go wrong? Let’s first start with the acting. The only person who gets a pass on this is Paul T. Taylor who fills mighty big shoes in his interpretation of Pinhead. He’s never going to be Doug Bradley, and that’s okay. For the brief periods of time in which we do see Pinhead, Taylor does his best to bring the character to light in a new way.

The focus of the film is really set on the three detectives searching for a serial killer known as the The Preceptor, and the acting is nothing short of atrocious. I found myself not caring if they lived or died, and when the final twist is revealed, it fell flat. The problem is, Hellraiser: Judgment was trying to be something it wasn’t. Stealing cues from films such as SAW and SE7EN, Hellraiser: Judgment tries to capitalize on the success of similar films instead of standing on its own as a distinctive film within a franchise.

“The Auditor” from Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s HELLRAISER: JUDGMENT

Putting aside the awful acting, the moment that really irritated me the most was the re-use of the famous lines heard in Hellraiser. I get if you are doing an homage to the film that started it all, but with this film, that was not the vibe I was getting. The fact that Tunnicliffe used the same famous line “Jesus wept” while recreating that well-known scene (with a few minor changes), came across as lazy filmmaking. On top of that, you have an angel named Jophiel (Wallace), who is apparently so commanding that Pinhead, the Priest of Hell, cowers at her presence. Sure, he FINALLY comes around and establishes his place within the world of torturing and suffering, but up until that moment, Pinhead almost seems soft.

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I’m sure you are asking yourself, are there any redeeming qualities to this hot mess? There are some, but I’m not sure it’s enough to wipe away the bad taste of the story and acting. If there is one thing I will say about this movie it’s this – the makeup and set design were superb. Those of you who love your gorefests will be happily pleased with the amount of work and detail that went into creating Pinhead, the Cenobites (who by the way, you only see 2-3 times), the Auditor and the Assessor. Speaking of the Auditor and Assessor, I thought these two characters were intriguing and fit perfectly in with the overall themes of the Hellraiser films.

Overall, I think it’s quite apparent, I did not like this movie. I wanted it to be so much more, and had more time been devoted to the script and finding better actors for the roles, I think this film would have been more successful. If Hellraiser films continue to be made for the sake of monetary gain with no attention to the mythos or what the fans really want, then maybe it’s time to give all these sequels a rest. I want my Pinhead to be someone that we fear, not a character that is a shadow of its former self. As Pinhead said, your suffering will be legendary, and in the case of Hellraiser: Judgment, he couldn’t have been more right.

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Hellraiser: Judgment is now available on DVD and VOD outlets. Will you be checking this one out? Tell us about it in the comments below.