Hellraiser ★★★½


Though it's a definite step back for Bruckner, that's less proof of a waning focus or anything like that than it is conclusive proof that Franchise economics have hit even the disreputable corners of the industry. As anyone who's seen all 450 Hellraiser movies could tell you, it's a little funny to think that a new one physically could be micromanaged by producers and writers and focus groups, but that does indeed seem to be the case here. How else to explain the truly nonsensical development that the climax is kick-started by presumed knowledge of the relative land-speed of the cenobite ("WHAT is your favourite color?!"). These things are supposed to be dimension hopping beings of pure, dread sensation, we really oughn't to be encouraged to think about such things as audience members. They rather lose their menace when it becomes clear that they're walking from place to place like that on purpose, and not because it's creepy. That's exactly the kind of thing that people write when they're in corners (see also: Alien³, written anew every day on the car ride to set by guys who talked themselves out of a better idea literally seconds before production was due to start) and have come too far to turn back. Still, nice to spend time in a world so carefully photographed (though there was about four establishing shots too many) even in the ubiquitous digital murk that all these big digital franchise movies have now. The lesson, not that anyone will learn it, is either (and admittedly this is less important) be able to read the whole script start to finish like a play and not lose either interest or credulity, or give the film to the visual stylist, say "go nuts," and leave the set. This will, I repeat, never happen, but ask yourself why we all still watch 80s horror movies and everyone's still ripping them off without creating new classics? Could it be...the filmmaking? I watched this giddy whenever hints of the old score crept through, waiting for an image as compelling as anything from Barker's original (or like...Ridley Scott's Legend or whatever) and that never happened. Too...professional, too proficient, to calm down long enough to become memorable on its own terms. Still, I had a nice time. Who doesn't like seeing people get cosmically, comically dismembered?

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