Riley (Odessa A’zion) is a recovering addict that stumbles on a mysterious puzzle box. When her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn) goes missing, it might have something to do with the puzzle box and something that is not from this reality.
Director: David Bruckner
Cast: Odessa A’zion, Jamie Clayton, Adam Faison, Drew Starkey, Brandon Flynn, Aoife Hinds, Jason Liles
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual content and brief graphic nudity.
Run Time: 2hr
Fun Fact: The first Hellraiser to have a female Pinhead character. Creator Clive Barker has always hated that name and it wasn’t until his 2015 novel The Scarlet Gospels where he gave Pinhead and definitive name.
The 1987 Hellraiser is a favorite of mine. I remember growing up I would always browse the horror section at my local video store looking at the covers. Even though I knew I wasn’t allowed to watch those types of films at a young age, there was always a pull to look at the covers because of how bold and unique they were. The Hellraiser series in general was one that I always looked at. Fast forward years later and I’m finally seeing them for the first time. As the films wore on the less in quality and the cheaper looking, they become. Original series star Doug Bradley was no longer in it and creator Clive Barker for years tried to come up with a reboot idea to no success. So, a reboot of the franchise sat in literal and figurative hell (no pun intended).
Of all companies its Disney that gives it it’s release on HULU. There hasn’t been a Hellraiser film in theaters since 1996 and all the other films have been straight to video format. At first, I had mixed emotions when I heard that this was in the works. I wanted to see what they would do and part of me is against remakes and reboots of films that I enjoy. So how did this all lay out?
This version is actually a refreshing take on a franchise that has honestly gotten stale in some way. Director David Bruckner is clearly a fan of the source material, and he respects it by not ripping it off. Through most of the film we hear the original score from Christopher Young and it was a nice throwback to the original. Even without the music Bruckner knows how to create intense moments of both scares and suspense. There were times that I was at the edge of my seat in anticipation in what was going to happen next. When the Cenobites are on screen there is something unpleasant about them that makes you want to leave the area and hide. One of the biggest things that I highly enjoyed was how the box was used. For every film before this the box was used for the same thing and the same reasons. This version makes it different that it effects different characters and what they are trying to achieve.
Casting wise Jamie Clayton owns the role as the new Pinhead. She even got Doug Bradley’s praise. Clayton’s Pinhead is surrounded by mystery, and I wanted to see her more. The way she looks and speaks brought me chills. If this version continues on with more films, I really do hope they bring her back. In fact, all of the Cenobites look fantastic. There are some unique looking ones, and the classic Chatterer also gets some upgrades. I mean hey at least there isn’t a CD-Head running around. Odessa A’zion has a lot going on and she pulls in a fine performance. She is believable as someone that is going through some rough times in life and in a way, I felt bad for her. Also, there were moments where I questioned if I should be in her corner after some of the stuff that was going on that she was responsible for. It made for a nice shade of grey.
Now let’s get to some of the things that were more on the weaker side. The first was the supporting characters are more on the weaker side. Most of them are your stock horror characters that you know something is going to happen to them. We also don’t really get to know much about them other than a few so why would anyone want to get invested in them. The second of my gripes is the length. The film runs at two hours, but it felt like it would’ve been better at ninety minutes. After the main theme of the plot with the brother is done, it felt like the writers had to come up with enough stuff to fill in the two hours. At moments there were times that certain scenes come off as boring because it can drag at points.
Overall, the 2022 version of Hellraiser is a refreshing take on the franchise. You can tell the people working on the film actually cared about the source material. We get a creepy and at times unsettling film that works. There are some new creative elements that are enjoyable and make the film stand out. Jamie Clayton was the best part of the film as she owns the role of Pinhead. While it does run a bit long and some of the other characters are forgettable there is a lot more going on to keep it interesting. When I watch these movies all I care about is seeing cool looking Cenobites and not the side human characters. What we get with the Cenobites was great and I would look forward to seeing more.