Even though this was the first of the series to skip straight to the shelves, this has to be one of my favorites of the series.
Unlike the predecessors, it specifically delves into the psychological torment of the Lament Configuration. In the prior movies it shows the bodies on slabs writhing in agony. This may be the nightmare that they are confined to under those sheets.
The atmosphere of this film is about as sleazy as it gets. A coke addicted dirty cop as well as an unfaithful husband and neglectful father, Craig Sheffer layers it on thick as he continues to drag the audience on a downward spiral. The lighting and camera are set just off kilter enough to shake the standard feel of most movies, instead it brings out the ckness that obviously thrives in this world. The muted tones and deepened shadows accentuate the darkness of the film.
The cenobites are a bit sparse but they look good. The wire twins are a multaneously gorgeous and gruesome addition to the menagerie. Overtly sexual and sadistic they are a lent Hill fan's dream come true. The chatterer torso marks welcome return of one of the most monstrous members of the Gash. The faceless cenobite is a spectral reminder in his life that the configuration has indeed been opened and what he is going through is not just a nightmare. As the bodies start to pile up, his grip on sanity begins to fade.
The muc is an interesting turn from the usual orchestral fare that accompanies the series, instead turning it into a dark ambiance that goes well with the cinematography. It goes from subtle and haunting to deep and powerful with relative ease, anything from a seedy sleaze movie to an overwhelming epic roar as the end draws near. This has been my favorite of all eight soundtracks that I have of this series.
This film was definitely a huge run in the oppote direction from all of the previous efforts and paved the way for the next. It has its goofy moments like the cowboy ass kicking outde of the bar in a rather vague attempt to shake him from the trail of his intended target. The reliance on sound to accentuate the misery inflicted on those around him with little chunks of gore and puddles of blood to remind you of the off screen violence without explicitly showing it to you until after is a great way to make you imagine. A rare Hitchcockian turn from the usually up front and brutal Hellraiser series and not wholly unwelcome. Make no mistake, some of the violence may be off screen but the gore is not misng.
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This one will be a hit or miss, diehard fans of the original tend to hate this one while ones that took issue with the originals favor it a bit more. It is a more thoughtful film and getting to see Craig Sheffer give it all he's got was a definite plus for me. You will practically hate him by the end of the movie and for that he has done his job well.