Image Entertainment // 2009 // 82 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // August 6th, 2010
Demons have rules.
If you take Clive Barker's Hellraiser and crossbreed it with Saw you might get something close to Necromentia. This one offers a low budget journey to hell through erotic torture that has less shock value than either of its inspirations. The demons are not nearly as cool as Pinhead, the gore is nowhere close to Saw, but the film at least offers smart narrative touches in the telling of the tale.
The story is told as an anthology about several men who all seek to create a map to the demon world in dead skin. One wants to bring back a deceased girlfriend, the next wants to save his suicidal autistic brother, another needs to win back his true love, and all of them must unleash hell on someone else to get their chance at salvation through sin. It's all about conjuring up the torture porn and funky sadistic creatures in fetish wear. The demons live in a narrow hallway filled with pipes, paint their skin gun metal gray, and ride around with gas masks attached to their wheelchairs. Also there's a refugee from Resident Evil ripping people apart just for good measure.
None of this feels too original, but thankfully the story twists and folds in on itself in interesting ways. It's a loving homage to Clive Barker, and I suppose mimicry is indeed the sincerest form of flattery. This one is far better than the bumper crop of straight-to-DVD Hellraiser sequels we've gotten in the recent past. So if you take it that way, it's actually quite satisfactory.
The DVD we were sent was a screener that only included the film along with a trailer. The transfer looks fine although a touch dark and a little monochromatic thanks to a strange wash of amber over the lens of most scenes. That's the film's style though, and you can't fault the technical department for giving you what the director wanted. With no extras I can't really tell you much about what the filmmakers were thinking by making this one. It needs supplements to justify the existence and to clarify the intentions of this project.
If you like kinky horror and Clive Barker then Necromentia is worth a looksee. Don't expect much in production value or new ideas, but if your comfort zone is in the Hellraiser flicks this one delivers enough to feel like home. The nice surprise is it won't insult your intelligence, because the anthology approach works well to bring the twisted threads together. Sure it's the same old fetish demons out to give S&M a bad name, but at least they are all locked in a story that is worth telling. It's worth a rental for fans of the genre, and Pinhead would give it an enthusiastic thumbs up.
Guilty of being the best Hellraiser sequel since the second
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R