Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)
WRITERS: Paul Harris Boardman & Scott Derrickson
DIRECTOR: Scott Derrickson
Craig Sheffer as Joseph
Nicholas Turturro as Tony
Nicholas Sadler as Bernie
Matt George as Leon
Noelle Evans as Melanie
Sasha Barrese as Daphne
Michael Shamus Wiles as Mr. Parmagi
Kathryn Joosten as Mother
Carmen Argenziano as Captain
James Remar as Dr. Gregory
Doug Bradley as Pinhead
QUICK CUT: A police officer who loves puzzles finds the ultimate puzzle, and learns a few things about himself in the process.
Joseph Thorne - A cop with a sense of morality, but a very flexible one. He's not a GOOD man, but he's not that bad either. He's in it for himself, and he'll do whatever is necessary. He loves puzzles, and children, and magic.
TRISK ANALYSIS: You have opened the box, and again we are summoned. The time has come to open the gates to hell, and present to you Hellraiser: Inferno, the fifth in the series. I have such sights to show you...
The movie opens up with our protagonist, Joseph Thorne, a cop, playing chess. Oooh, chess. I foresee some SYMBOLISM!! coming here. Which I have zero problems with. Using chess as a metaphor for a game with the Cenobites works well enough. A bit cliche, but hey, whatever works.
We go full on noir with this outing, as Thorne goes into some overwrought narration about how much he loves games and puzzles, and his knack for solving them. And I gotta say, I am so here for this. It's a great character beat, and feeds into his becoming a cop, and the story itself.
Joe and his partner Tony get called into a crime scene and they check out the body...or rather, bits and pieces of it. Once they ID the spleen, it turns out to be someone Joe knew in high school.
As they investigate, Joe finds some drugs stashed in a book, and he does some sleight of hand to make it disappear. Okay, what...what was the point of that bullshit? He's stealing potential evidence, so he isn't doing it for an audience. And it's not REAL magic, it's just palming the vial and slipping it into his pocket. SO WHY NOT JUST DO THAT. He's not fooling HIMSELF. Gah.
They find a candle, and see something inside it that turns out to be...A CHILD'S FINGER. And BWAAAAAHAHAHAHA. First of all, Joe delivers the line with so much monotone seriousness, you next expect to hear a YEAAAAAH as he slips on his sunglasses, except there is no bad pun. But in case you didn't quite grasp the seriousness of the moment, the music chimes in just to make sure. And if THAT didn't do the trick, the camera ALSO pushes in on Dramatic Detective.
Joe checks in the evidence, steals three hundred bucks from the vic's wallet, AND he takes the puzzle box home. His quest for knowledge is about to take one hell of a turn.
He heads home to establish he loves his kid, and having a rough time with his wife, and is filling his time with prostitutes. He loves his wife, in some way, and doesn't want to leave her because he believes in loyalty, and it would kill her if he left. Like I said, flexible morality.
After doing some drugs and banging his hooker, Joe heads into the bathroom to play with the puzzle box, and easily opens the seemingly harmless toy.
Once he opens the box, things flicker to black, and when he leaves the bathroom, he's in a child's bedroom. He hears cries for help, and goes to investigate. He runs into a pair of Cenobite twins, and now things are gonna get interesting.
After creepy Cenobite seductions, the child cries out again, and Joe again tries to find them. He runs into half a Chatterer, and briefly sees Pinhead before awakening on the motel bathroom floor.
The next day, he gets some information on the hooks used to rip Chen apart, and then gets a call from his hooker as she apparently gets killed pretty gruesomely. Gee, woulda been nice to see that.
He heads to the motel, where they will surely show us what happ...nope. He sees what was done to her, gets his partner, and sends HIM in, so NOW maybe we'll...SHOW US ALREADY!
They sit around and Joe tells Tony what happened last night, and she was still alive when he left. They start cleaning up the room, wiping down Joe's prints...and while Tony is in the other room, he plants Tony's pen and pack of smokes, to implicate HIM instead of Joe.
FINALLY they go into the bathroom, and we see the girl hanging from the shower with a slit throat, and I am sorely disappointed. Oh, but there's another child's finger.
They track down a print on the box to guy who works at a body piercing shop, and Joe goes to question him. He mentions the box belongs to someone called The Engineer, but Cho stole it from Leon. Evil hellscape hot potato.
After that, he heads down to get some ice cream from the local drug dealer, Bernie. He's also Thorne's informant, and they chat about the hooker and the Engineer.
We get some exposition about a local pimp/scumbag who didn't like the Engineer horning in on his territory, and what the Engineer did to send a message. It's a good way to establish the lore and seriousness of the Engineer, without bringing him directly into the story.
Joe kills some time at a bar, and a random kid comes up and gives him a random VHS tape. Remember those kids?
Thorne takes the tape, and puts it in the bar's TV to play it back and OH YEAH that seems like a GREAT idea. You don't know what is on this tape, where it came from, let's just broadcast it to everyone in the bar.
What we see is Bernie getting flayed with some chains and hooks Joe saw at the piercing place, and then an inhuman face, licking another child's finger and leaving it for Joe to find.
He shows the tape to his captain and a few other cops, but all the tape shows now is static. The captain is taking notice of all these murders are actually connected to Joe. He orders him to see the precinct's therapist, just to make sure everything's okay.
Joe avoids any real questions with Dexter's dad, and then goes to do more research. We get more noiration, and some more insight into Joe being pretty terrible human being, but will do anything for kids.
He thinks he sees The Engineer, but it just turns out to be a hallucination over an actual perp being brought in.
They find Bernie's dead body, and a lead to another place, so the detectives drive off to see where this is gonna take the plot.
Joe and Tony find themselves at a cowboy western bar in the middle of the woods, and lots of poker being played. Speaking of poker, they poke around and question, but the boss comes out with spurs and six guns to ask some questions of his own.
The two have a growl off about the Engineer, until Joe again sees the creature, sneaking off in the back. He gives chase into the woods and after seeing his Cenobite friends, the cowboy gang comes over and beats him up.
Detective Tony finally finds his partner, and rushes him to the hospital, until Joe says he'd rather go to the squad house, and talks to the counselor.
He questions him about the Engineer, and Dexter's dad sure seems to know a lot about him, and the box itself.
After his chat, Joe heads home to get cleaned up and yell at his family, and grab a quick nap. A nap which he is rudely awakened from by a phonecall from the home where his elderly parents are being kept.
Joe rushes to the home, and things get strange and ethereal and dreamlike, which is wonderful. Everything seems off with his mom as they chat, and his sick dad just lays there.
He leaves and finds himself in the kid's room again, which gets flooded beneath the doorjamb with blood from his parents.
...And then the phone rings again and he gets woken up at home. Events replay, but when Joe arrives at the home, his parents are gone, save for a blood soaked mattress.
Tony shows up to confront Joe, certain that HE is the real killer, there's too many coincdences and connections, and the pair get in a fight. Joe drives off to a meeting with the Engineer thanks to a note left with two more fingers in his parents' room.
When he arrives, he finds a telescope and has a look, treated to watching the Engineer kill his partner. Well, that's taken care of at least!
The Engineer rings up the cop, and tells him to go home. So Joe rushes there, and finds the therapist waiting.
Oh, he also finds the temperature has dropped, it's snowing inside, and his wife and child are tied to a spinning pillar, reminiscent of several others throughout the series thus far.
If that wasn't enough, they start to freeze and crack and crumble, shattering to bloody, fleshy bits on the floor.
Joe confronts the therapist, and they finally got a match off one of the child's fingers they keep finding. But the match is to Joseph himself. So yeah, just toss out any sense of logic going forward, because we are now in the land of metaphor.
Which Joe FINALLY puts things together, and declares that Dexter's dad is the Engineer, and 'that's as good a name as any'. Well, actually, I'd say it's better than the name we most often use for him, as the man gives way to the Cenobite called Pinhead.
So Joe heads to his childhood home, once again ending up in the kid's bedroom, HIS bedroom, and meets his younger parents, and he kills them both to save himself.
He wanders through the house, being confronted by everyone who has died and the Cenobites along the way, eventually coming upon a black cavernous void, with only his younger self, Pinhead, and the killer.
The killer tears into the featureless mask, revealing it was Joe underneath all this time, and the real Joe gets chained up. Meanwhile, Pinhead delivers some exposition trying to explain the metaphysics of all this and barely succeeding.
Spirit Joe kills Baby Joe, and Actual Joe is I guess stuck forever in a Hell of his own making, forced to relive these events endlessly, as he is torn apart, and wakes back up in the motel before Daphne was even killed.
Video: It looks pretty good. And it should, since this is 2000.
Audio: It sounds good, and I got some great use of the 5.1 track with stuff behind me.
Body Count: Definitely a solid showing, and nicely spread out, so there's always something going on.
0 - Jay Cho is killed off screen
1 - 20 minutes and we hear the prostitute the cop slept with get murdered over the phone.
2 - Bernie gets flayed by the Egnineer.
3 - Tony gets stabbed next
4 - Joseph's wife crumbles
5 - And his daughter.
6 - Joe shoots his mom
7 - And his dad
8 - Joseph's younger self gets killed by his dark spirit.
9 - Joseph himself gets metaphorically killed?
10 - Joe shoots himself in the head.
Best Corpse: Joe's wife and daughter crumbling into tiny icy bits is great.
Blood Type - B: There's a nice amount of blood, and the usual effects. And some great creepiness to it all.
Sex Appeal: I feel like there was very little in way of of this.
Drink Up! every time the cop delivers a line through gritted teeth. But that might kill you by the time a Cenobite shows up.
Video Nasties: I liked Joe's family dying so much, check it out for yourself.
Movie Review: So, I was bracing myself for badness, since I know after 4, and some say after 3, I know the series takes a nosedive at some point. I am pleased to say this is not that point. The story is pretty solid, the effects are good, it's well made. This movie ALMOST works perfectly. It keeps the Cenobites at arms' length, keeping them mysterious, spooky, and ethereal. I love the noir feeling to it, I love the mystery...but there is a level of quality it doesn't quite hit, it has some hammy acting...but it IS a solid try though. It captures a very close feeling that some of the previous movies did not. The biggest failing is the lead actor, who isn't BAD, but he's a bit stiff, and a bit over the top. But those are honestly minor complaints. Four out of five half Chatterers.
Entertainment Value: The kills are solid enough, if mundane a lot of the times. The new Cenobites are a return to basic form at least, although they're also just kinda there. This is more of a fall from grace noir storyline with some Cenobites lurking around the edges. It DOES make good use of the Inverse Pinhead Law - The quality of your Hellraiser movie is inversely proportional to the amount of Pinhead is in your movie. Doug Bradley is BARELY in this, and that's the way it should be. He is used to good effect as a judgement figure, and THAT is how you use Pinhead. There is some wonderful, campy silliness that is a lot of fun, from the overacting, to the strange cowboy bar, and while this doesn't quite hit the mark of a Hellraiser movie, it's fails upwards, and splendidly. Three out of five children's fingers.