Clive Barker brought his novella The heart of hell hit the big screen in 1987 Hellraiser, which inspired one of the greatest horror franchises of all time. Unfortunately, the exhausting series of sequels begged her legacy to finally find a well-deserved rest. The night house Director David Bruckner had his own goal of showing the world a new adaptation of Barker’s novella that represents a return to old form for the graphic horror franchise.
Hellraiser brings a new adaptation of Clive Barker’s novella
Riley (Odessa A’zion) is a young woman struggling with her drug addiction. She is six months clean when she begins a relationship with Trevor (Drew Starkey), but her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn) disapproves of him. Their bickering only drives Riley further into Trevor’s arms, however, as he then convinces her to help him break into a rich man’s shipping container to make some money.
Riley and Trevor stumble upon an ancient puzzle box they want to sell, but soon discover the horrors that come with it. They unknowingly summon the cenobites who continue to claim more life. The pair must work together to find a way to end their killing spree before it kills everyone closest to them.
Director David Bruckner deals with the consequences of addiction
Hellraiser follows a strong-willed protagonist in Riley, despite going through a vulnerable time in her life. In addition to her steps in drug rehab, she cannot afford her rent and family problems continue to mount. As a result, Riley plans to prove her brother wrong and change the trajectory of her life with a single heist that could allow her to rebuild. Her desperation continues to cause her to panic as she must overcome several hurdles before she can hope to face the cenobites.
The screenplay, written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, explores the common oddities and obsessions of the rich and poor. Hellraiser harnesses the human desire for ultimate control of their reality through class, but there is no such thing as absolute control. As a result, they find themselves in the merciless hands of the cenobites, angels to some but demons to others. There is a price for everything.
Each main character encounters their own battle with addiction. Riley’s drugs are accidental as she tries to escape her reality. Other characters, however, are seduced by power, love, greed, and other desperate desires inherent in many people. The cenobites understand the pleasures of the flesh and find new, twisted ways to bring their sadomasochistic ways into the reality of their victims.
“Hellraiser” combines nightmarish nostalgia and cruel freshness
Bruckner recognizes many of the calling cards Hellraiser and hands them over. There’s a chain motif that runs throughout the film, tipping his hat right to the terrifying presence of Pinhead, aka The Priest (Jamie Clayton). The result is a bloodbath that is not afraid to go all the way and refuses to interrupt the most gruesome moments. It certainly pushes the limits of what an R rating would allow if that went through a traditional theatrical release model.
This iteration of Pinhead is appropriately androgynous, feeling more like an entity of death than a gendered being. Original Pinhead actor Doug Bradley will always remain an icon, but Clayton introduces a wonderful version of the character that never feels like a copy. She rules the screen in her own unique, intimidating way. Meanwhile, the human antagonist doesn’t quite succeed in unfolding the same menacing effect.
Brucker has some wacky visual tricks up his sleeve, especially when the environment changes to accommodate the cenobites. Some of the CGI enhancements fall a little flat, but the kills themselves pack a grotesque punch.
Some of Riley and Trevor’s exposure-heavy investigations cause a pause in the pace for those already familiar with the franchise, but it gives newcomers a chance to get into the story without skipping a bar. It has some pretty basic slasher elements and not much beyond that, but it’s a very solid entry into the franchise. Hellraiser is a blood-soaked slice of nightmarish nostalgia wrapped with a fresh, gruesome bite to remember.
Hellraiser hooks straight into streaming on Hulu on October 7th.
How to get help: In the US, contact the Administration of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Hotline at 1-800-662-4357.
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https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/hellraiser-movie-review.html/ David Bruckner’s Pinhead is a satisfyingly gory return to form