Hellraiser: Inferno (Scott Derrickson, 2000, USA)

Hellraiser: Inferno (2000) is the fifth installment in the Hellraiser franchise, and the first to go straight to video. Notable for being the feature directorial debut of Scott Derrickson, who went on to become a successful director not only in the horror space (SinisterThe Black Phone) but also in the superhero genre (Doctor Strange), the film is a marked departure from prior entries in the franchise. The film feels more like Se7en and other psychological thrillers of the 1990s, at times employing some surreal imagery.

The plot surrounds Craig Sheffer as Detective Joseph Thorne, a corrupt Denver detective who finds the famous puzzle box at the site of a ritual murder and begins having hallucinations. He eventually realizes these hallucinations are connected to a killer known as "The Engineer." Meanwhile, his psychiatrist turns out to be Pinhead (Doug Bradley). While the other Hellraiser films had played up the presence of Pinhead, here he appears to be barely in the film. Sheffer is truly the star of this film, but unfortunately, he doesn't have the acting chops to carry the whole film. 

As with many franchises taken on by the Weinstein brothers, Hellraiser: Inferno feels like a preexisting script that was turned into a Hellraiser film. It is also notably the first Hellraiser film to feature no involvement from creator Clive Barker, and this is evident. While some of the imagery in the film is interesting, unfortunately, it doesn't make up for the overall sense of dullness. The film's premise itself is not bad, but overall the film's execution is problematic. Hellraiser: Inferno is a notable step down from Bloodline, in that it is bad and not entertaining. At least Bloodline was quite entertaining, in its attempt to meld futuristic Pinhead with period piece Pinhead. Hopefully, the franchise does not continue to go downhill.



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