By: Emma Rickett, Contributor
[Spyglass Media Group; 2022]
David Bruckner, director of V/H/S and The Ritual, asks in this film, “What if we made Pinhead from Hellraiser a woman… and we made her serve?” The answer is the 2022 reboot of the campy 1987 classic, Hellraiser. Full of tasteful gore and unlikeable characters, Hulu’s Hellraiser earns a 6/10.
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The energy and idea of the original film are undoubtedly present, but it doesn’t reach that exclamation point of punk icon that the original does. The character design sends this film further than any other of its characteristics. Pinhead (Jamie Clayton) has a sexy feminine twist on the original masochistic villain, as well as the rest of the Cenobites, with a modern redesign that is almost fashionable. The effects, body horror visuals and CGI in Bruckner’s version are undoubtedly realistic. The rest of the film, however, falls behind with flat characters and stale plot.
The main character, Riley (Odessa A’zion), is a young woman who finds the Lament Configuration puzzle box that kills anyone who is dumb enough to pick it up. Riley and her friends have little in common, and their shared dialogue is equivalent to pulling teeth. All one-dimensional and with few notable traits, no characters in this film can muster human connection from an audience. You find yourself actually rooting for Pinhead, as she manipulates the rules for Riley to play on the sadomasochism the Cenobites love.
The lore of the 2022 version does give it some leverage, as the story of Roland Voight (Goran Visnjic), the man who had the box before Riley, helps progress the Cenobite origins, the knowledge of the box, and the Hellraiser world in general. This could be an awesome segue into a sequel, but it isn’t enough to make it a good film.
Hellraiser isn’t a remake of Barker’s 1987 punk classic, but a continuation that adds to the storyline in a way that just makes sense. The execution and plan for this film had clear potential, but you can’t help but feel something is missing. Horror as a genre, especially modern horror, needs something that makes it stand out, and Hellraiser doesn’t have that flair. Bring back the leather bodysuits.