Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) Review
“This year, the past, the present and the future will all meet at the crossroads of hell.”
Synopsis: In the 22nd century, a scientist attempts to right the wrong his ancestor created: the puzzle box that opens the gates of Hell and unleashes Pinhead and his Cenobite legions.
Even considering how nonsensical Hellraiser II and Hellraiser III are, Hellraiser: Bloodline is startlingly bizarre. This is the franchise’s “in space!” entry, but honestly, the space part seems like an afterthought. There’s also very little involvement from Pinhead and his usual Cenobites until the very end of the movie; instead, most of the malignancy comes from ordinary humans and a demon named Angelique. It’s hard to see what the intent behind this misguided entry into the Hellraiser series was, eschewing as it does just about everything that made the original film enjoyable.
As the fourth installment, Hellraiser: Bloodline takes place in the distant future, but confusingly, also in the past. The story is told through a series of jump cuts exploring the bloodline of the puzzle box’s maker. (Ludwig remarked as we were watching that it really felt that the studio intended to make a period piece, but then heard one of the other franchises was doing an “in space!” entry and went, “Shit, we gotta do that, too.”) Despite the main story being set in the future, a third of the movie is set in the 1700s and another third in the 1990s.
Main actor Bruce Ramsay does a decent job while playing a scientist and his descendants throughout the flick, but as with his supporting cast, he’s hampered by the nonsensical storyline. Valentina Vargas, playing the demon Angelique, faces a similar challenge: she does well, but playing to an audience waiting for Pinhead (Doug Bradley) is no easy feat. The plot makes a bit more sense than the story from the previous movies, but the jumbled nature of the telling means it loses a lot of steam as the movie goes on.
Hellraiser: Bloodline is… not completely terrible. Definitely not good. Its attempts to fill in some of the mythology of the series and lore behind the puzzle box is weak, but does address a few of the holes in the franchise. Perhaps my biggest gripe is that it’s played very straight-faced; it’s hard to suddenly vault your franchise into the future and not be ridiculously cheesy, but Bloodline makes the attempt. The end result is something very divergent from the tone in the first movies, but still not campy enough to be a truly ridiculous entry.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: C