This revival of the famous Clive Barker series is directed by David Bruckner (‘The Night House’), with Jamie Clayton playing the first female Pinhead. It debuted on Hulu
‘Hellraiser’ 2022 : I conducted my research before writing a review of the latest entry in the venerable Hellraiser horror film series, which has been around for 35 years. I watched all ten of the previous movies again, starting with the highly regarded 1987 original and its 1988 sequel and continuing with the subsequent two theatrical and six direct-to-video releases. I took a tonne of notes throughout the marathon, being careful to follow the characters and plot developments through all of their several iterations.
Back in the day, I saw the first two movies and may have even seen Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth and Hellraiser IV: Bloodline, which were released in 1992 and 1996, respectively. But when the show moved straight to home video, I gleefully pulled out since I’m not the kind to have a basement full of horror movie memorabilia. So I apologise to all of you Hellraiser fans out there.
For those who are unfamiliar, the series is based on Clive Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart (the author also directed the original film), and it centres on a mysterious puzzle box called the “Lament Configuration,” a sort of demonic Rubik’s Cube that acts as a portal for the cruel, otherworldly creatures known as the Cenobites.
Any humans who have the misfortune of summoning the Cenobites are accustomed to suffering horrendous torture at their hands. Am I the only one for whom the name conjures up images of delicious sugary treats purchased in shopping malls? They appeared to be interested in examining the fine boundary between pleasure and suffering, and they belonged in S&M clubs from the 1980s.
The leader of the Cenobites is Pinhead, a well-known horror icon who was formerly portrayed by English actor Doug Bradley in most of the movies. Jamie Clayton (Sense8) creates some sort of historical significance as the first female Pinhead in the series for this remake/reboot/sequel (it’s a little bit of each). Who knows how the fans will react to this because most horror movie fans aren’t exactly known for their commitment to gender parity. (Ask any participant in the female-focused Ghostbusters reboot.) However, Barker initially intended the character to be androgynous, and Clayton, whose voice has been electronically altered, cuts a suitably ominous, intimidating, and even seductive figure.
That is, assuming you don’t mind the fact that she wears clothing made of her own flayed skin and that her head is pierced with enormous pins.
Riley (Odessa A’zion), a young woman with addiction issues, impulsively goes along with her boyfriend Trevor’s (Drew Starkey) plan to burglarize a storage unit. The plot, which has been stretched out to a bloated two hours, centres around Riley. The puzzle box is the only thing they discover there, and it has the unpleasant propensity to stab its users in the hands. When that occurs, all hell actually breaks loose, starting with Riley’s brother Matt being missing (Brandon Flynn).
In an effort to solve the mystery, Riley and Trevor enlist the help of Matt’s boyfriend (Adam Faison) and their roommate Nora (Aiofe Hinds). This leads them to encounters with creatures like The Chatterer, The Whisperer, The Gasp, among others, as well as Pinhead. Along with the Cenobites, there is also the evil billionaire (Goran Visnjic, who enjoys eating the landscape) and his shady lawyer (Hiam Abbass, Succession, Ramy).
The new Hellraiser looks great (at least what you can see of it, it’s awfully dark), boasting a visual stylishness commensurate with its substantial budget and the skills of its director, David Bruckner, who, going by this and the most recent The Night House, is quickly establishing himself as a horror director to watch.
The screenplay, which was written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski with narrative credit going to seasoned author David S. Goyer, is less compelling because it never bothers to fully develop its resolutely diverse cast of people. Of again, that’s not necessarily a significant disadvantage given what happens to the majority of their flesh.
Fans will be relieved to learn that this Hellraiser doesn’t hold back on the gore, giving the most bloodthirsty spectators plenty viscera and flayed flesh. You can sometimes see the harm caused by a pin pricking someone’s flesh from inside the body, as if to educate young viewers interested in a career in medicine about the anatomy. The highly inventive creature designs and makeup (which blow away its cinematic forebears), the immersive sound design, and the musical score’s excellent creepiness, which borrows from Christopher Young’s original, deserve special notice.
‘Hellraiser’ 2022 (Storyline)
A take on a Clive Barker’s 1987 horror classic where a young woman struggling with addiction comes into possession of an ancient puzzle box, unaware that it’s purpose is to summon the Cenobites, a group of sadistic supernatural beings from another dimension.
Check out the trailer below.
Production companies: Spyglass Media Group, Phantom Four Films, 20th Century Studios, 247Hub
Cast: Odessa A’zion, Jamie Clayton, Adam Faison, Drew Starkey, Brandon Flynn, Aoife Hinds, Jason Liles, Yinka Olorunnife, Selina Lo, Zachary Hing, Cit Clarke, Goran Visnjic, Hiam Abbass
Director: David Bruckner
Screenwriters: Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski
Producers: David S. Goyer, Keith Levine, Clive Barker, Marc Toberoff
Executive producers: Gary Barber, Peter Oilataguerre, Todd Williams
Director of photography: Eli Born
Production design: Kathrin Eder
Costume designer: Momirka Bailovic
Music: Ben Lovett
Editor: David Marks
Casting: Colin Jones, Eric Souliere
Rated R, 2 hours 1 minute