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Hellraiser is back with a new direction from director David Bruckner. He is no stranger to horror having directed The Night House, The Ritual, V/H/S, and others throughout the years. Now he takes on Clive Barker’s diabolical vision that was the 1987 film featuring the horror icon, Pinhead.
What is interesting about Hellraiser is that my most significant memory of the original (which I did not see until about a year ago), was how horrified I was every time I saw Pinhead on the VHS box at our local rental store growing up. Then when finally watching the original, it took a lot of digging to understand the idea of what the heck was the concept of a Cenobite. All that to say what excited me about this re-imagination of the original was to see if Bruckner delivered a better understanding of Barker’s original concept.
One interesting thing about Hellraiser was that I found that it felt like a much more mature story and presentation of a horror film than I have seen lately. Part of it has to do with the scenes that Brucker set up through the film that felt grand and elevated the presentation of the puzzle box and showcased the Cenobites in a very artistic form. Then combine that with great dim lighting and you have what I think may be the best presentation of the source material.
But in order to make that work, you need a centerpiece that is more than just the puzzle box. That comes in the form of the Cenobite leader, who is known in the film as The Priest that is played by Jamie Clayton. I feel that adding a feminine touch to the character really elevated it a bit more than the original. It made her character have an added charm that could entice potential victims to become one of them.
Speaking of stars of Hellraiser, in this film we follow Riley McKendry, played by Odessa A’zion. She is an addict in her early twenties that is trying to do better by attending a 12-step program. She lives with her brother Matt, played by Brandon Flynn. One night that was tainted by substance abuse, Riley and her boyfriend Trevor, played by Drew Stakey, steal an ancient puzzle box that Riley unlocks. While still high on drugs, she is visited by The Priest that warns her about the box’s hunger for blood.
My biggest issue with Hellraiser is its overall runtime and pacing. The film is about two hours long. For the first half, it seems to really just be setting up the gory events to come, and by then I was starting to lose interest in the movie. When the film is streaming on Hulu could be a dangerous thing as it only takes a press of the remote to change it to something else. I think some of the events of the first half could have been condensed a little to help the pacing.
Overall, Hellraiser a good reboot of a classic horror franchise that was in much need of a facelift. Or in this case… new pins? It has the potential to maybe earn a sequel depending on how fans of the franchise and new viewers receive Bruckner’s vision. Oh, and of course, there are lots of chains and gore that will please those that enjoy it.
OVERALL GRADE: B
20 Century Studios’ Hellraiser will be released exclusively on Hulu, on October 7.