Hellraiser 5: Inferno (2000)
Director: Scott Derrickson
James Remar/Dr. Gregory
Crooked cop Joseph (Sheffer) is about to take on the case of his life. He finds a child’s finger and the "Lament Configuration" at a murder scene. Once he opens the box, he’s haunted by visions of demons that may or may not have something to do with the case he’s working on. A game begins with a child’s life, his sanity and his soul at stakes. Where’s Pinhead??
Yes, Pinhead shows up for like two scenes, more of a cameo than a small part. Yes, the film has nothing to do with the previous entries. Yes, Hellraiser fans will feel cheated. But if you can get over being bummed about not getting a true Hellraiser sequel, you might enjoy this grim descent into hell.
This film plays like a cross between Bad Lieutenant and Jacob’s Ladder. Joseph is my kind of cop: he does coke, screws prostitutes (didn’t know street hookers were that hot), ignores his wife/child and backstabs his partner. He’s an a-hole looking for redemption (a la Bad Lieutenant) and that salvation is finding this missing child. Once he opens the "Lament Configuration" karma kicks in hard. He’s plunged into a confusing world of demons, gore and weirdness. Joseph is forced to face his own demons…and it’s not pleasant.
I will admit that I laughed the first time I saw the creatures in action. But as the movie moved forward it sucked me in and grabbed me by the jewels. The film has this dream like quality that I really enjoyed. Some of the visuals are very odd (loved the cowboy bar scene, shades of Twin Peaks) and reality is always questioned. The film does bog down in the middle due to its "who is The Engineer" subplot but its conclusion brings it home. It’s filled with shotgun fun, spooky surprises and gives the film an extra layer of depth. The ending makes everything worthwhile…I loved it.
After overusing Pinhead in the last two sequels I heard that the goal with this film was to pull him back in the trenches to become once again (like in the first one) hell’s referee. They fail in that respect cause his presence is not felt enough throughout the film. When he does show up his role in this morality play is to be "the ghost of Christmas past", bringing Joseph back to his youth. It would have worked better if it were another demon than Pin Head showing Joseph the rounds. I couldn’t help but think to myself: "Pin Head what the hell are you doing? I think you’re in the wrong movie dude!
Without a doubt the film’s biggest flaw is calling itself "Hellraiser". I know the brand name will attract more people but it can also backfire (already has, most reviews of this film are negative). The film does slap in some "Hellraiser" ingredients for good measure: The box, the pillar of souls, the hook ripping, Pinhead but they’re only there to justify the title. The story could have existed easily without them. Don’t promise the public ice cream if you’re going to give them cake.
Some nice bloody bits. At a certain point there’s a fondling session that will get under your skin. We also get a cut off head, some hook whippings and after the fact cadavers. Not a gore show but the color red is present. The Cenobites look like aliens or The House On Haunted Hill remake demons. One of the creatures is also a variation on "Chatterer" but minus his legs and his blue tan.
Craig Sheffer (Joseph) eventually won me over. I will admit that at first I felt his performance was awkward but as the film moved on I grew to like it and him, the movie is on his shoulders. Nicholas Turturro (Tony) is on automatic pilot playing a cop…again. James Remar (Dr. Gregory) does what he has to do…not much. Doug Bradley (Pinhead) shows up to collect his check, Pin Head has nothing to do with this film. All of the female parts (wife, hooker) are too underwritten to mention…
T & A
Having a sex scene with a hooker but not showing nudity is kind of trivial, isn’t it?
I thought the film looked good. I liked the lighting (extreme white, red lighting), the mood, some nice shots and a few boo scares. The director also puts much emphasis on sound, it works and complements the hellish settings.
The score always changes. From church music, to light techno and on and on and on…The music plays a strong part in this film and supports the images well.
The film does feel familiar. This terrain has been walked on before: Angel Heart, The 9th Gate, Jacob’s Ladder even Seven. But if you like that genre (I love it) I wouldn’t see why you wouldn’t appreciate this one. Once the film was over it actually had me thinking about my own life, my own demons. There’s enough morbid imagery here to satisfy the "Goth" in all of us, enough gore to quench the thirst but not enough Pin Head to call this a Hellraiser flick. Dimension Film should be ashamed of themselves for misleading they’re audience.
Scott Derrickson also wrote Urban Legends: Final Cut.