The fourth installment in the popular HELLRAISER series follows a junior-league bad lieutenant as his transgressions draw him into the bloody world of the Cenobites. Detective Joe Thorne (Craig Sheffer), who loves wordplay and games, is on a real-life: He neglects his ill and aged parents, steals drugs and money from the evidence room, lies to his partner...read more
The fourth installment in the popular HELLRAISER series follows a junior-league bad lieutenant as his transgressions draw him into the bloody world of the Cenobites. Detective Joe Thorne (Craig Sheffer), who loves wordplay and games, is on a real-life: He neglects his ill and aged parents, steals drugs and money from the evidence room, lies to his partner (Nicholas Turturro), disappoints his little daughter and cheats on his wife. The night his misbehavior comes back to haunt him begins with a crime scene: A man lies dead in the middle of a circle of candles, apparently flayed alive. There's a child's finger at the scene, which the pathologist says was severed while the small victim was still alive. And there's a mysterious box, perhaps some kind of puzzle, which Joe discretely pockets before embarking on a coke and sex bender with a hooker named Daphne (Sasha Barrese). Sometime during the evening's debauchery, Joe tinkers with the box and watches glassily as it opens and adjusts itself. The following day, Daphne is dead and Joe alters the crime scene to destroy evidence of his presence and implicate his partner. He begins having waking nightmares of a faceless killer, two latex-clad girls with snake-like tongues, and a child's bedroom that seems oddly familiar. The investigation into the flaying murder leads him to tattoo artist Leon (Matt George), who reluctantly alludes to a shadowy individual known only as "The Engineer;" the Engineer, he says, owns the puzzle box and wants it back. Leon is soon murdered, as is one of Joe's informers; at each murder scene, another child's finger is found; Joe convinces himself that if he can only rescue the child, it will compensate for the bad things he's done. Because of Joe's increasingly erratic behavior, his boss orders him to visit the departmental psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Gregory (James Remar), who knows a little something about the puzzle box the Lament Configuration and the evil forces it unleashes. Though more coherent than the disastrous HELLRAISER: BLOODLINE (1996), this psychological thriller with demons gets bogged down in too many "Is it real or just a nightmare?" sequences, and Sheffer's typically wooden performance as Joe makes it hard to sympathize with his travails. Worse, the gloriously wicked Pinhead is reduced to warning Joe that the hell in which he's trapped is of his own making how did the dark prince of the Cenobites become a tut-tutting schoolmarm?
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