‘Hellraiser’ Review: A Worthy Reboot to the 3 Decade Old Franchise

Hellraiser review

If you aren’t acquainted with Clive Barker’s 1987 classic “Hellraiser”, it is a skin-crawling, twisted, barbarous, and utterly sadistic film based on his 1986 novel “The Hellbound Heart”. In October 2022, Hulu released another gruesome film in the franchise, “Hellraiser“ (2022) directed by David Bruckner and produced by Clive Barker himself with David S. Goyer, Keith Levine, and Marc Toberoff. It is a modern retelling and a good way to be integrated into the Hellbound universe. It is not perfect but will indeed give you the repulsive twisted feel of the original films that you are familiar with.

In an era of reimaginings, The Director, David Bruckner does an amazing job in introducing Hellraiser to a new generation with this new movie “Hellraiser”. During its 35 years in existence, “Hellraiser” has produced 11 installments, having the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good ones have gone forth to become cult classics.

The newest addition to the franchise follows the life of the protagonist, Riley, played by Odessa A’zion, a recovering addict in a reckless relationship with Trevor, who coerces her into robbing a safe with promises of “cashing out big”. They find an antique puzzle box they assume is worth a lot and plan to sell it. The box, unknown to them, would change the trajectory of their life. After her brother goes missing, she begins to see little glimpses and pieces of Pinhead. There is an exciting build-up to the final full reveal of the terrifying creatures – cenobites. 

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The new Hellraiser follows a similar assertion but a different plot. In the novel ″The Hellbound Heart″ by Clive Barker, Pinhead is implied to be androgynous and Jamie Clayton couldn’t have been more perfect for the role. She brought an amazing new element to the franchise with her performance. The climatic buildup was perfect, full of tension, and had me at the edge of my seat at all times.

Another outstanding character, Roland Voight played by Goran Visnjic, is very important to the story. His obsession with the sadomasochistic beings ″that gives pleasure″ (if pleasure was ripping out all your fingernails and cutting you open). This addiction to the Cenobite ultimately consumes him and leads him on a killing spree so that he could get his prize from the cenobite god – Leviathan. 

The actors are really good and they deliver in the movie with an outstanding performance from Jamie Clayton as Pinhead.

David Bruckner does a great job with the cinematography. Great shots all around especially during the detailed changes of the puzzle box during changing configuration. Amongst all the incredible shots, a remarkable one would be the playground scene at the end of act 1 – beautiful. All the great visuals are accompanied by a great score that makes the movie feel incredible.

The costumes are more than satisfactory with very horrific pinned-up skin, stapled tissue, the nerve-pulling crankshaft in Voight, and the all-around grueling body horror. An upgrade from the BDSM and latex of the first movies. There is a gory scene in which we watch organs and skin fusing together… bone-chilling and sensational.

The epic lighting is everything. It gives you the feeling that someone is about to die. It makes you feel the classic horror movie vibes and the ending sets up a plot for the next hellraiser movie.

One of the downsides to this movie was the slow pacing at the beginning. It didn’t help with the off-screen kills happening. It wouldn’t have been a problem if it were another movie but this is the HELLRAISER. It’s supposed to be all blood and chains. Although we get to see the iconic Hellraiser kills, it starts at the 1:07:20 mark and it’s surprising because the movie is a whopping 2 hours long.

Although it stands alone and changes the already existing lore of the original films, it does a great job at revitalizing and reshaping it in such a way that it doesn’t feel inferior to the works before it. If you’re a fan of old fashion grimace horror, I definitely recommend the film.

Score: 8.5/10

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