Streaming service Hulu has released another cool exclusive - the mystical horror film Hellraiser. Until the very premiere of horror, it was hard to say with certainty what a good director David Bruckner would do - a remake, a sequel, or a pathetic parody. But unexpectedly, the eleventh part of the eternal cycle turned out to be not just a good, but an almost perfect rethinking of a familiar concept.
A young woman trying to overcome her addiction comes into possession of an ancient puzzle box. But the main character does not even suspect that her mission is to call into our world the cenobite demons, a group of supernatural sadistic creatures from another dimension...
To be honest, I have always been skeptical about the idea of a remake, restart, or rethinking of the cult horror Hellraiser. All previous attempts to continue or copy the cult horror film of the director, screenwriter, and writer Clive Barker invariably turned into a disaster, and everything that came out after the sequel - Hellraiser 2 - can only be called a circus.
Gradually, the legendary image of Pinhead acquired details, but the character itself rapidly degraded. And if in the third part a powerful villain from the inside of reality suddenly began to joke, then by the tenth he finally turned into a sour self-parody. In short, the main villain has undergone approximately the same metamorphosis as the entire horror series.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the creators of a new horror film based on the literary and cinematic heritage of Barker decided to distance themselves from the sequels as much as possible and simply shot a completely independent movie. Completely standalone - but based on the rich mythology of the original.
You need to consider that director David Bruckner, who previously made a name for himself with horror films The Night House and The Ritual, did not try to copy or retell the 1987 Hellraiser. Instead, he, with screenwriters Ben Collins and Luke Petrovski, and producers David S. Goyer and Clive Barker, took all the familiar elements of the series and simply assembled a new story about new characters from them.
Therefore, Hellraiser 2022 can equally well seem to you as a remake or restart, as well as a completely canonical sequel. And in any case, there will be no mistake, because the audience is waiting for a new adventure, but in the familiar reality of insane demons that promote humility and torture.
As for the most controversial moments that frightened the fans of the cycle in advance, nothing terrible happened.
Firstly, the new Hellraiser is still imbued with a thick atmosphere of Barker madness. Imagine a nightmare - sticky and tangled, from which it is impossible to get out. Represented? Well, David Bruckner's horror is entirely made up of this very nightmare.
Secondly, Hellraiser 2022 turned out to be exactly bloody and cruel to the extent that it seriously claims a place among the most important extreme horror quests. At the same time, the film mustn’t turn into a formless and meaningless mess: the tape has a peculiar aesthetic - albeit a vile one.
Thirdly, the image of Pinhead performed by actress Jamie Clayton does not raise any questions. The leader of the army of perverted demons is devoid of any feminine traits or manners and appears before the audience as a powerful and completely otherworldly being. Many were seriously worried that she-cenobite would turn out to be a weak, pathetic copy of Pinhead performed by Doug Bradley. But it turned out exactly the opposite.
And fourth, the new Hellraiser boasts the craziest cenobite design ever. Among the demons, of course, there is a classic one (Chatterer), but there are plenty of completely new specimens. And for sure, most of the images will firmly sit in your memory - nothing like this has ever appeared on the screen.
Not without problems, of course. No matter how carefully David Bruckner handled the plot of the source and no matter how hard he tried to meet all the expectations of the fans of the series, he completely flunked the first act of horror. Suffice it to say that in the first hour of a monumental mystical horror movie, nothing happens: first we are introduced to not-very interesting and stereotyped characters, and then we are long and tediously prepared for a hellish nightmare and madness.
But the most ridiculous thing is that a prolonged exposition noticeably breaks the whole tempo. Yes, David Bruckner certainly tried to thicken the atmosphere of an impending infernal catastrophe and to introduce newcomers to the universe in general terms ... But why? Surely all viewers already know at least in general terms who the cenobites are and what the experiments with the mysterious puzzle box, also known as the Lamenting Configuration, will lead to. And if so, then why delay the inevitable and waste time in vain?
Although it is easy to put up with such - and, perhaps, the only obvious - disadvantage. And all because David Bruckner did the main thing: he not only transferred the authentic atmosphere of Barker's works to the screens but also tried to preserve the vast and rich mythology of the source. And therefore, the new Hellraiser does not seem like a hasty remake or another soulless restart that exploits cult cinema. It is an attempt to tell a new story, the events of which take place in a familiar world full of pain and fear.
Clive Barker in his stories reveals controversial characters who are rarely just good people. The authors of the new Hellraiser conveyed this feature of the writer's work. Wild libertines in the spirit of Frank Cotton did not come to the party, but we have problematic characters here - they do rash acts, sin with forbidden substances, and betray. It is curious to watch the complex and full of emotional moments of the struggle of the “fallen” Riley with her inner demons. The outcome of this line is not obvious, and the girl either moves away from the edge of the abyss of immorality or approaches it closely.
After devoid of any originality and a painfully drawn out "prologue'' in the new Hellraiser, there is a horror-filled part in the mansion of Roland Voight - and here happens a cinema miracle. The scene with the portal to the hell dimension in the car is amazing: this is the most unusual, inventive, and even fiercely scary part of the film. From the unbearably calm and cruel Pinhead with his gift of "pleasure" you can forget what happened in the film before that. At the end of the picture, a couple of powerful plot twists follow - they are partly expected, but still wow.
Is Hellraiser 2022 worth watching? Weak nerves or overly impressionable people should refrain, otherwise, Pinhead and his friends will come to them more than once in nightmares. But all fans of the cycle and creativity of Clive Barker should not pass by in any case. As well as people interested in the state of modern horror in general.