October 08, 2022
By: Nicholas Ruhrkraut | October 8th, 2022

Whether you want to call it a reboot or a requel- notably referencing the new ‘Scream’ released earlier this year- the new ‘Hellraiser’ very distinctly stands apart from its predecessors and is definitely not a sequel. Even though Clive Barker isn’t at the helm like the original from 1987, this new adaptation stems more directly from the original source material, Barker’s novella, The Hellbound Heart.’ David Bruckner (‘The Night House’) directs this familiar tale of orchestrated cenobite torture with a fresh spin and plenty of gory delight.

After an initial sequence in which Joey (Kit Clarke), a striking Jacob Elordi stand-in, regrettably reconfigures a mysterious contraption at a party, we fast forward to a group of horny young adults who soon find themselves in a similar predicament. Riley (Odessa A’zion), a recovering addict, breaks into an abandoned cargo container with her boyfriend, discovering the puzzle box. With reckless abandon and family drama, as slasher films go, she opens the realm of the cenobites, a demonic creature that doesn’t differentiate between pleasure and pain. In becoming connected to the puzzling object, Riley is confronted by Pinhead with an ultimatum, purpose, and answer for activating the box.

If you’ve never heard of Pinhead before, don’t feel like you have to go back and watch every movie from the very beginning. The story makes nods to the original but also veers quite a bit, introducing the plot anew but expanding on multiple elements of the first film that left viewers with so many questions. Furthermore, the box itself has a deeper meaning and morphs into more shapes. The original Lead Cenobite (aka The Hell Priest) has been replaced by Sense8’s Jamie Clayton, who brings even more androgyny and restrained sadism to the role. The character is also way more interactive in this version, providing a more sinister, fully formed villain.

‘Hellraiser’ is the perfect release to start off spooky season movie marathons. The stakes feel even higher, the horror ranges from skin-crawling torture porn to explosive splatterpunk, and the intricate, new character design continues to play at your deepest fears. Keep the volume up because the foreboding score by Lovett pulses and strikes to add even more tension. Lastly, while horror movies can sometimes feel cheap or superficial, this is a smarter flick that melds entertainment with deeper meditations on religion and human desire. Pinhead welcomes your imminent viewing experience: “Greater delights await. We wish to see you proceed.”

'Hellraiser' is now streaming on Hulu.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Nick Nicholas Ruhrkraut (Contributor) lives in New York City but is a Midwestern boy at heart. He loves discussing everything film on his podcast "Oscar Wild," cooking and baking at home, reading, and traveling.
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