HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH - REVIEW
Clive Barker's cult franchise was always going to aim higher and higher. After all, this was a crazy-ass concept with endless possibilities and a lot of potential for creative, far-out developments.
The first Hellraiser took place mostly inside this one house but the claustrophobic aspect of the story worked really well. Its sequel, Hellraiser II: Hellbound, followed a slow build-up with some neat sequences taking place inside the demon Box itself. It was a great way to expand that world and I personally couldn't wait to see more of that in the second sequel.
So what's all this shit?!
You've got Pinhead and co stuck inside some pillar statue, some boring douchebags with problems we really couldn't give two shits about and a first half so dull I felt like putting on the awesome Phantasm quadrilogy instead to balance things out. Granted the first couple of scenes are fun and the second half picks up promptly but it never becomes good: only sillier, more ridiculous and, by extension, funnier. This whole film is a bit of a joke really which is a shame because it boasts some killer practical effects, some good ideas and a beautiful score all there to remind you of how much more atmospheric and unique the first two films were. It's a miracle they worked but they worked, this one just doesn't "get" it.
We're following uninvolving, occasionally irritating characters through a story which doesn't live up to its long (and trust me, it FEELS long) build-up. The reward for a lot of scenes being some trashy gore effect or a dramatic Pinhead entrance. There is an attempt to link all this to its predecessor but it falls flat due to the film not really expanding the mythology rather giving the Pinhead gang a more directly devious motivation instead. Yes they get more involved in our world and kick ass in a rock club at some point but, as ever, it's a limited threat. The second film focused more on the personal conflicts of the characters and the other Hellish dream-like world inside the Box and although I'm not completely against Pinhead and co wanting to take over our world, if you're going to do it: freakin' do it! By all means make Hellraiser as epic as you can, I'd love that shit! THAT would be different.
But no, Hellraiser III is mostly a half-assed attempt at continuing a cult franchise with a genuinely creative premise. The film is just not clever, sexy, dark, stylish enough, though, to make a real impact visually or otherwise. It's a shame but hey, that's what usually happens when you try to milk something good one too many times. Don't get me wrong: there are worse films out there: Hell On Earth does have its share of fun, silly moments, but it is a disappointment nonetheless.
I'm hoping one of the many further sequels will have something to offer besides lols but as Hellraiser IV: Bloodline appears to be part-directed by Alan Smithee, I won't get my hopes up.
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