Hellraiser II: Hellbound (1988)

This sequel to Clive Barker’s flawed but effective original is a frustrating experience. There are so many elements that work here that it’s disappointing when the narrative falls prey to some shortcomings. The movie’s budget hinders its scope, which renders a number of its most fascinating ideas (like its literal descent into Hell, and introducing its God, Leviathan) silly and flat. In addition, the gore is downright disturbing and has a tendency to distract from the story the movie’s is trying to tell. Nevertheless there’s so much imagination here that it’s hard to dismiss it outright – the special makeup effects are jarringly realistic, a number of shots are downright inspired, and the overall project has an effectively oppressive atmosphere. It’s just a shame that there’s so much going on at once and so much of it is hopelessly muddled, because at its core this is a compelling continuation of the original.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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