Each October, horror fans are faced with the acute displeasure of having to wade through the season’s streamer-dumped selection of genre content in search of gems lest it fall through the cracks and be lost forever. This can sometimes lead to exciting discoveries, things that still fly under the radar after an extremely limited theatrical release, or bold and exciting projects from directors that go broke on Gonzo Gore (although they don’t all do it). sound narrative).
And any horror fan will tell you that part of the fun is the hunt. One of the many reasons the genre is so popular is that even when it’s bad, it’s oh-so-good. Spending 90 minutes on the couch watching a horrible horror movie isn’t the same as spending the same amount of time watching a nap-worthy comedy or drama. The experience may be painful, but it is also very pleasant.
The same sliding scale between pleasure and pain is the guiding force of the cenobites, the demonic beings in Clive Barker’s legendary 1987 B-movie, Hellraiser. Led by their unnamed leader, affectionately nicknamed Pinhead by fans of the franchise upon its release, the Cenobites are “explorers in the broader regions of experience.” When summoned by a puzzle box, the cenobites seem to collect their caller and take them to an underworld: neither heaven nor hell, but filled with endless torture.
The film spawned a whopping nine sequels, while a full reboot has ironically remained in its own production hell since 2006. That is, until now, with the Barker-coproduced Resurrection landing on Hulu Friday. The new Hellraiser is billed as the “take” of the original film, a different story with the same core principles updated for a generation for whom pain and pleasure seem to walk side by side at all times.
With the horror genre more mainstream than ever – and endless material to glean from culture in general to make the film’s themes even more uncomfortable – this is new Hellraiser could have been a chance to recruit a new legion of devotees for the cenobites. But aside from some fantastic demon sequences and admirable practical effects, Hellraiser squanders its unfair potential in favor of tired horror tropes and a painfully obvious allegory that dumps it into the depths of horror hell rebooted.
The new film, like the 1987 original, begins with a sequence laying out the rules. A mysterious puzzle box is found in the home of eccentric billionaire Roland Voight (Goran Visnjic) by a guest at one of his lavish parties. Curious, the party-goer plays with the crate, resolving its current configuration, triggering a blade that pops out of the crate and slices through his hand. His blood calls the cenobites, and moments later he is a prisoner, hooked in their chains.
Six years later, Riley (Odessa A’zion), a burnout in her twenties, is trying her best to stay clean. She lives with her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn); his friend Colin (Adam Faison); and her roommate Norah (Aoife Hinds); and worries them all with their constant comings and goings. When Riley brings home a handsome new friend, Trevor (Drew Starkey), from a 12-step meeting, the group is even more suspicious.
Seemingly intent on helping Riley sidestep recovery and responsibility, Trevor suggests they rob an old shipping container left in a warehouse by a wealthy antique dealer. They discover the puzzle box in its original configuration and take it home, obviously during a bend. Matt is fed up with his sister’s behavior and throws Riley out. She takes the puzzle box with her. Hours later, in a veil of regret, Matt searches for Riley and finds her in a playground, where she repeatedly falls unconscious. When he tries to pry the box from her hand, he mistakenly completes a configuration and stabs himself with his blade.
When Riley comes to, Matt is gone, leaving nothing but his blood in the sink of a nearby bathroom. Determined to trace the Mystery Box back to its origins, Riley must face her own demons. To unravel the mystery behind the box, she must reconcile with her friends – all while being pursued by the cenobites, who need new victims and offer Riley life’s greatest pleasures to offer them.
If that sounds like a crude metaphor for addiction battles, ding ding ding! They’ve met the blatant allegory of this reboot, joining other recent entries in the oh-so-blatant canon Halloween (PTSD!), The Invisible Man (domestic violence!) and Scream (finally be online!). Unlike 2013 is fantastic evil Dead Reboot – which also fought drug addiction by portraying the visceral horrors of withdrawal –Hellraiser finally abandons its entire allegorical structure. The result is that one of the most brutal horror movies of all time becomes a slasher largely driven by numbers.
We get little to no idea who the characters are in this reboot and what’s going on inside them. Two are gay, one is a brother, one is a stud and another is…a roommate? Aside from these ordinary descriptions, they have no distinguishing features. Which begs the question, why is that Hellraiser of 2022 is a full 40 minutes longer than the original, but feels so much more hollow?
When a horror film breaks the two-hour mark, it has to earn it. The original film does so much with so little that it’s nothing short of amazing. It gets its exhibition out of the way almost immediately and doesn’t make a giant rigamarole out of mystery box logistics. It’s fast, obnoxiously creepy, and downright gross – whatever Hellraiser movie should be!
For all its sleepiness, the new reboot briefly comes alive (or should I say revived) when Pinhead and the cenobites emerge from their outer dimension to grace the audience with their evil perversions. The film borrows a few creatures from the original film, updating their design but thankfully retaining the practical effects and makeup that make them so hauntingly nightmarish. There’s even a new Pinhead, played by Jamie Clayton, who’s finally giving the high priest of the cenobites the dose of feminine energy he deserves – despite the whole sex-hating deity of Hell thing.
Each of the cenobite sequences is absolutely captivating; Their low, modified voices shred nerves as easily as their chains, hooks, and various torture devices cut through their victims’ skin. As Pinhead callously asks, “What are you praying for?” When one of these victims begins to recite the Lord’s Prayer, it’s a deliciously corrupted reminder of what it is Hellraiserimagination so shockingly blasphemous. The films tap into our intrinsic fear of annihilation and suggest that there is no point in chasing salvation for so long when we should instead accept that the mere existence of a soul means it will forever waver between good and evil .
The new Hellraiser rises every time it briefly rests in the mud of entropy, only to be dragged back down to earth by its poorly written characters who don’t have nearly enough bite to revitalize a franchise. The film also falls short in its portrayal of modern immorality. The occult panic of the 1980s is still palpable when watching the original film and this new one Hellraiser misses a great opportunity to regain that sickness in his wealthy, insatiable, Jeffrey Epstein-inspired abominable magnate who holds the key to the puzzle box secrets.
Even with some delightfully godless sequences that were long awaited Hellraiser reboot fails to recreate the same dark magic that the original so cleverly exploited. Pinhead told us in 1987, “Some things have to be endured, that’s what makes the joys so sweet.” Let’s hope that’s true when the puzzle box opens again Hellraiser‘s inevitable sequel.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/obsessed/new-hellraiser-movie-review-an-obvious-endless-reboot-that-not-even-pinhead-can-save?source=articles&via=rss New ‘Hellraiser’ Movie Review – An obvious, never-ending reboot that not even Pinhead can save