25th Feb2021

‘Hellraiser: Judgment’ Blu-ray Review

by Dom Hastings

Stars: Damon Carney, Randy Wayne, Alexandra Harris, Paul T. Taylor | Written and Directed by Gary J. Tunnicliffe

“We have such sights to show you.”

From Lionsgate UK, Hellraiser: Judgment – the tenth and latest of the series – is the second of two Hellraiser films to have new releases in the UK, both digitally and physically. In having same day releases with its predecessor, Hellraiser: Revelations, the two most recent Hellraiser films now sit alongside the original trilogy as having official UK Blu-ray releases.

Originally released in 2018, Hellraiser: Judgment opens in the bizarre fashion of a tramp sex offender strapped into a wheelchair, with his blood fueling the ink of a typewriter, confessing his sins to a morbid-looking auditor – played excellently by writer-director Gary J. Tunnicliffe. What follows is wildly sadistic and grotesque, all appearing before the title sequence too – a very fair warning for what you’re in for! The plot subsequently follows the story of sibling police detectives, Sean Carter and David Carter, played by Damon Carney and Randy Wayne respectively, as they are joined alongside fellow police detective, Christine Egerton (Alexandra Harris), in their quest of a serial killer known as The Preceptor, whose murders relate to the Ten Commandments. In pursuit of the killer, Sean finds himself attending to the house where the “tramp sex offender” was last seen before he went missing… Sean’s infiltration of the abandoned house directs him into another world of torture, dismay, and Cenobites. Managing to escape the darkness within, Sean’s daring actions leads to consequences beyond any human control, leaving himself, his wife, his brother and his new work colleague at the peril of the evil Pinhead (Paul T. Taylor this time).

Quite often with the Hellraiser films, they tend to be more than just horror – they always have an association or connection with other genres. With Hellraiser: Judgment, the film essentially belongs to the crime genre, though in the second half, the film successfully evolves into a psychological thriller. The transition is a good one even if it can be read as splitting the film into two halves. If anything, the crime aspect is still there – as it should be – but the psychological nature takes precedence as the stakes edge higher.

In continuation of its excessive gore and grotesque attitude towards violence, explicitly body torture, Hellraiser: Judgment can, as fans of the franchise know well, can be a tough watch for outsiders or newcomers. Released theatrically, there would definitely be people leaving the cinema early. Not only is the blood and flesh ridden violence difficult to comprehend, the crimes committed in the real world are edgy too. Writer/director Gary J. Tunnicliffe does a magnificent job of paralleling the darkness in both the real world and Cenobite world.

Though fairly regardable as a decent low-budget knock-off of Se7en, Hellraiser: Judgment is not only infinitely superior to its predecessor, Hellraiser: Revelations, but it is also one of the best in the overall Hellraiser series after the original three or four films before they transcended into the realm of direct-to-video. Under the creative genius of Gary J. Tunnicliffe, Hellraiser: Judgment successfully breathes new life into the franchise. Seven years between the installments Revelations and Judgment (2011-18), the Hellraiser franchise had been left in tatters. 25 years on from the original film, Hellraiser had transcended from peak horror to parody horror, unfortunately. Now three years on from its initial release, Hellraiser: Judgment can finally be enjoyed by both loyal and new fans of the franchise, as the tenth installment is released digitally and on DVD/Blu-ray for the first time in the UK.

*** 3/5

Hellraiser: Judgment is available on digital now, and will available on DVD/Blu-ray from March 1st, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

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