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Select reviews of HELLRAISER: PROPHECY (2006)


24 May, 2006: Peter Atkins, screenwriter, HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II

"I wanted to congratulate you on your movie, which I've just seen and enjoyed.  You
have a real eye for composition and a good instinct for editorial pacing (some of
the rapid-cut gore/effects stuff is particularly good)..."

 

15 February, 2007: Monika DeLeeuw-Taylor, MicroFilmmaker Magazine, Issue 17

"Coming from people with zero filmmaking experience, Hellraiser: Prophecy is a very impressive final product. The concept of combining two popular movies is interesting, and I think both plots lend themselves to this combination. This film will probably find appreciation among fans of the horror genre, particularly of the Hellraiser and Prophecy stories, although those non-familiar with it may have difficulty connecting with it. However, there might actually be a future for these greenhorns in the area of filmmaking, and I would encourage them all to develop these talents. "

 

12 October, 2006: Chad Stubbs, The Horror Podcast, Season 2, Episode 1.

"It's alright, it's hard to find because he made it himself and does a few screenings around America. Being in Britain, it's a bit harder to get a hold of it... I watched it, and I was mildly impressed... Not only is it a HELLRAISER fan film, it's also a PROPHECY fan film, so Jonathan Kui must be a horror fan. He must love HELLRAISER (1987) and he must love THE PROPHECY (1995). So, what did he do? He goes and combines them, doesn't he, in quite a clever way... The special effects and makeup are quite good, considering none of them had done this before, they're all biology students... I haven't got the tools to make some of the prosthetics that they've done here... So, he's done quite well..."

 

28 June, 2006: Michael D. Lynch, Associate Media Coordinator, ApolloCon Short Movie Festival 2006

"I'm pleased to note that it was so scary, one young lady left the showing in tears.  The rest of the audience was riveted.  Thank you very much!"

 

28 March, 2006: ReelHorror.com podcast, episode #11

Michael Carbone: "Here's what I thought was awesome: Jonny's directing... I was blown away by his directing style... The way he cut between the chains grabbing people made it look--  it looked just as good as HELLRAISER (1987) to me... and the fact that he took HELLRAISER and THE PROPHECY (1995) and crossed them over almost seamlessly... It was a great fan film, and a really solid, solid effort at a first film, at a short."

Michael Sean Becker: "I really liked the movie... The story was great, the story was absolutely great. The way that it was structured and the way that it was laid out, storywise, and the way the breaks were positioned, it felt like the pilot for a TV series... You go back and watch CLERKS (1994), I think this movie was probably on the same line, qualitywise, or a little better, as far as the way it was shot, [the way] the camera moved around, the way it told the story... It was a great fan film. That's what it comes down to: it was a great, great fan film."

 

17 April, 2006: Mark "Scarecrow" Adams, The Hellbound Web

I have to admit my initial reaction to this idea was one of suspicion, I have always been opposed to crossovers with Hellraiser and this was directly linking ideas of Heaven and Christianity to my beloved series. My concerns were somewhat petty however and the precision in which Jonny Kui brings the two worlds together is so expertly done and the results so fantastic that I found myself wondering why I had been so against the idea to start with.

The story isnít too complicated but certainly has a nice level of depth that brings the mythology of the two franchises together without betraying either. The imagery of a bloodied mattress was done fantastically and made for a strong opening and the film continued to deliver the right quota of gore whilst not using it just for the shock value. There were a couple of twists that long time fans may have seen coming and some nice nods to the past but, for many, it will be the final confrontation between Lucifer and Angelique that will stick with them after: a  wonderfully played scene that changes pace a number of times and really oozes tension.

Part of what makes scenes like that work so well is the actors involved. Iíve heard the acting criticised by others and whilst I admit there is a lot of poor moments the whole is greater than the sum of these parts. Thereís some energy and enthusiasm on screen that the least convincing dialogue doesnít serve to pull the viewer out of. Lucifer was played very well with the right amount of menace and charm, though the false beard didnít always help him. Angelique worked very well though at times I really struggled to hear what she was saying and could only work it out on the third viewing. That aside, the performances were strong and helped the climax build to its peak.

The effects work was very interesting, the chain sequence in particular having a lot of energy that was straight out of the feature films. At one point there is a stabbing which is straight out of Psycho; we donít really see anything but we believe we have. Itís a brilliantly directed moment that demonstrates how Jonny Kui doesnít see their lack of an effects budjet as a hindrance but as something that incubates creativity. The Cenobite costumes were also fantastic, the best being Spike who really comes across well, Bound looked good but a little loose leather-wise and Butterball was slightly plastic looking. But these are expected problems and arenít that distracting.

Perhaps the best thing about the whole film is the direction. Thereís so much energy and creativity in the shots, the way the camera moves and what the characters do on screen. The other Cenobites might not do much but they all do something, whether itís running hands down chains or taking the Box from another character. These small interactions make them part of the proceedings rather than just the window dressing of the later Hellraiser films. The above mentioned stabbing and chaining sequences again prove Jonny has an eye for what works and can work budgetary constraints to his advantage.

All in all HELLRAISER: PROPHECY is a fantastically constructed piece that shows a lot of promise and creativity from a first time film maker. There may be some problems with acting and little real budget but thatís to be expected from this form of fanfilm and itís a credit to Jonny that he does everything so well that these seem nothing more than slight niggles. Top marks for this brilliant short film and I hope to see more form Jonny Kui soon.
 

21 March, 2006: Jose "Antipax" Leitao

"To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven."

- Satan in "Paradise Lost", Chapter I, by John Milton.

In this short film Hellraiser: Prophecy, one of the first real Hellraiser-based serious fan-film to be released, written and directed by Jonathan Kui, a nightmarish concept takes shape: a Second Rebellion is taking place in the porphyrogene gates of Heaven, as the Archangel Gabriel leads a faction of dissenting Angels against their Maker. They mean to strip Mankind of their very essence: their Souls, seeking a return to a time when they didn't have to compete with what they believe to be inferior creatures, for God's love. In their way, defending the Word, stand the Archangel Michael and the rest of the Angelic Host.

Paradoxically, Lucifer must choose to side against this Second Rebellion for reasons of his own. For this he must contact stronger forces beyond the reach of anyone without a Soul. Powers that rely on Order, and Discipline, which might help Lucifer maintain the status quo. The Order of the Gash, explorers in the further regions of Experience who serve Leviathan, may be such a force. But their dimension is off-limits to Lucifer.

This is where Natasha (Lori Pyzocha) comes in...

I'd say the strongest point of this movie is its story, a powerful and original screenplay written by Johnathan Kui. The dialogue is dramatic and rich, directly contributing for the progression of the narrative, delivered by amateur actors who nevertheless manage to achieve a handful of rather intense moments.

Jeremy Yost as Lucifer has, of course, some of the best lines of the script, and manages to incarnate a scornful Lucifer, with a persistent smile on the corner of his mouth, yet dead serious when he must press his point.

Monica Dus as the treacherous and serpentine Angelique also has some beautiful lines as she coaxes and seduces her despairing victims into the grasp of her God Leviathan.

Allison Blum as Lydia portrays a completely lost woman, driven to violence and thrown into a state of despair and confusion.

A word of praise for the Cenobite troop Costume Design is in order, designed and realized by Christie Bialowas

The editing done by the director, relies upon some invisible continuity editing, and boldly breaks some old rules (i.e. 180ļ rule) for the sake of originality.

The story does a well thought-out expansiveness to the mythology of Hellraiser that I enjoyed, incorporating Angels, Demons & Cenobites as a part of the same multi-dimensional Space. We are also given a new insight on what it takes to open the Lemarchand Lament Configuration.

Chains galore in the final act, as well as some well-achieved chainings. The special effects in the chaining sequences are believable enough (Trivia: using fake blood actually bought from 2 Hours in the Dark).

Of course, as a low-budget short, some details are to be taken with a grain of salt, especially in the make-up department. The Cenobites, as highly modified creatures, necessitate a good amount of work to achieve verisimilitude, and there are some details that must be forgiven for the sake of general enjoyment of the story. Our minds have a magic tendency to fill in the gaps and put perfection or close, where some may be lacking.

Other prop difficulties were also solved using different angles, like the box-solving scene, due to budget restraints which didn't allow for more. The CGI special effects in my screening copy, though as yet incomplete, were also very believable, and I have no problem accepting them as is; they work perfectly, if you keep an open mind. I was particularly fond of Lucifer's eye-opening scene, very accomplished and disturbing. I first saw this in the teaser trailer.

When engrossed in the story, our suspension of disbelief can do wonders. Allow yourself to be transported and take any faults as the growing pains of a new director working with an amateur, yet hard-working crew.

The finished DVD will also include some great Bonus Material like a Gag Reel (I laughed my head off at some of the basic bloopers the crew and cast faced during the shoots - you will be amused to see how many takes nervous laughter can spoil!) as well as some very interesting surprises for hard-core Hellraiser fans. Keep on the lookout for the final DVD version.

I am eagerly awaiting the finished package, which will be free, to include in my Hellraiser collection.

It's my belief that Hellraiser fans will be generally pleased by this addition to the growing deck of fan-based films. I for one am looking forward for Jonathan Kui's upcoming work.

"The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n."

- Satan in "Paradise Lost" Chapter I, by John Milton.

21.03.2006
Josť Leit„o