I apologize for the delay in posting today's review. As I was watching this movie on Tubi, the app kept glitching, making the movie impossible to watch, so I was forced to try again this morning. Luckily the app worked just fine, and I was finally able to watch today's film, Hellraiser: Inferno.
Inferno stars Great Value David Boreanaz, or as his IMDB page lists him, Craig Sheffer, who Clive Barker fans will probably recognize as Boone/Cabal from the movie Nightbreed, which I reviewed earlier this month.
As the film opens, we see Detective Joseph Thorne (played by Sheffer) playing a game of speed chess when he is called away to a crime scene. When he arrives, he realizes that the horribly mutilated corpse is a man he went to high school with. The police discover a child's severed finger at the scene, along with a strange, wooden puzzle box. Thorne steals both the dead man's money and the box from evidence and spends the night in a hotel room with a prostitute named Daphne, having sex and doing illegal drugs. While Daphne sleeps, Thorne opens the puzzle box and immediately finds himself in a dark, dreamlike world populated with horrific creatures, including two freakish twins who attempt to seduce him. The following morning, Thorne reports to work and receives a frantic call from Daphne at the hotel. When he arrives at the scene, he and his partner find Daphne dead in the shower, along with another child's severed finger. Despite protests from his colleagues who feel he's too close to the case, Thorne begins tracking down the killer, a mysterious man his sources tell him is called "The Engineer."
I'm not going to lie, I absolutely loved this movie! Before today, I'd only ever watched the first four Hellraiser films. Inferno is a return to form, and in my opinion is the first sequel to serve as a worthy follow up to the 1987 original. The film focuses less on the cenobites and more on the sinful humans they are intended to seduce, torment, and ultimately punish.
Pinhead is back, of course, but his screen time is greatly reduced in comparison to the last couple films, and that's okay!! There's no flashbacks to his mortal life, no rampaging through the streets, no more blasphemous one-liners in churches, and no more shoehorning ridiculous cenobites into the story. This is Pinhead at his most calculating. Once you realize what's happening, its fun to watch Pinhead play with his prey.
Aside from one painfully out-of-place scene with a cowboy poker saloon complete with kung fu cowboys, the story is solid. The punishment Pinhead has chosen for Thorne is delightfully fiendish. I love that the film went in the direction it did. I got so tired of the previous installments being about defeating Pinhead. That's not what Hellraiser is about at all. It's about the wicked getting what's coming to them, and in that department, Inferno doesn't disappoint.
I think my verdict should be obvious, this film is great, and if you haven't watched it yet, I highly recommend it. Skip parts 3 and 4, because they're really not worth your time. Those movies sacrificed substance for style, but Hellraiser: Inferno has plenty of both to go around.