Spotlight

One Too Many: HELLRAISER IV – BLOODLINE!

18 June 2019

We forced our intern, Charlotte Daraio, to watch a film, not just any film though, it had to be a sequel to a film from a franchise that she had never seen any of the films from before…then we asked her to review it. 

One too many times have I found myself watching a continuation of a beloved franchise that doesn’t quite hit the mark, or watching a follow-up to a film I didn’t like that much in the first place. I’m all too familiar with the bitter disappointment and self-hatred of having probed the sanctity of closure, only to never be able to shut it quite as tightly.

Well, what better way to eradicate these negative emotions than to jump the hurdle of the high bar altogether? That’s right: I’m talking about skipping the original. Because who needs all that pesky pretext that hinders a sequel-viewing experience?

These reviews are based not on tech specs or creative merit, but on stand-alone-ability – on how well the sequel braves the cruel elements of knowledge, nostalgia and time. So sit back and let an ignoramus warble on about – and maybe trash talk –  the nth instalment of your favourite franchise. Because let’s be real: you know she’s right.

HELLRAISER IV: BLOODLINE (1996)

Let me start by saying this: this movie really makes no sense. I’m not even going to refer to it as a ‘film’ because it doesn’t deserve the tinge of eloquence that word offers.

When it starts, I’m not expecting to see a Star Wars-esque shot of outer space. The name Hellraiser doesn’t really scream ‘Science Fiction’ – the only things it raises are my eyebrows. It just makes no sense. It makes. No. God. Damn. Sense. How is anyone going to raise Hell in space? If my six years of praise-Jesus school taught me anything, it’s that Hell is supposed to be located at the centre of the Earth. That’s where all the fire and stuff is.

On top of how confused I am by what’s happening on screen, the seeming-antagonist of the movie – who I later find out is Merchant, the protagonist – looks so much like James McAvoy in Split that I’m catapulted further into disorientation. I’m confused. I’m upset. I’m heartbroken that James McAvoy and Anne-Marie Duff divorced in 2016. And then comes the timeline change – and I’m somewhat relieved: we’re on Earth. It’s the 1800s. This is definitely when and where I can see some demons spawning. That isn’t to say that the transition makes any sense – it’s definitely bizarre that a supposed Science Fiction movie set in the future jumps back this far and turns itself into a period piece. It’s actually really –

Holy shit, is that Adam Scott? My God, it is Adam Scott. Adam Scott is in this terrible movie, yet still somehow became the Adam Scott that he is today. Kudos to him and good on whoever it was that gave him another shot after seeing his character in this movie: introduced as an unsure servant to some kind of evil high priest, Adam Scott’s character ends up killing said high priest to become a full-throttled devil-worshipper himself – but only so he can keep his pet demon as a sex slave. Have I got that right?

The story doesn’t abide by its own crucial rule, which is that whoever summons a demon has complete control over it. This rule is broken, willy-nilly, whenever the plot needs some fattening: Adam Scott’s character uses the pet demon, Angelique, to kill the very man who summoned her. Then, when Angelique summons the uncomfortable-looking Pinhead, he somehow exerts power over her and not vice versa.

By the time this happens, I have whiplash from being flung into a different timeline: 1996. Our 90s version of Merchant is an architect – I think. What kind of architect, you say? I have no idea. From what I gather, Merchant unknowingly makes heaps of boxes that demons use as portals. And he somehow doesn’t know he’s doing it. What the heck does he think he’s making and why is he so famous for making them if they serve no purpose other than to help out demons?

Speaking of Merchant’s fame, are you seriously telling me that their massive, upper middle class apartment doesn’t have its own laundry? Merchant’s wife actually has to leave her house – a house that’s living quarters are separated by a fancy step – and go into the building’s basement to do her washing. I understand that this happens so that her unattended son can be kidnapped by demons, but come on! She could have gone to have a shower or popped out to get groceries from the car. She even could have taken a nap. But no. The movie instead chooses to insult what I know about rich people’s houses by having her journey to a communal laundry. Ridiculous.

But then, the doozy – the real kicker of the show: ‘we’re gonna split up.’ Enough said.

Other than some very cool practical gore effects, Hellraiser: Bloodline doesn’t offer a lot. It really, really makes no sense – even outside of it being a sequel.

I give it 2/5 for stand-alone-ability.