Hellraiser is considered one of the top five horror franchises by most people who follow horror. It has a long-standing reputation among fans as a very solid horror franchise. Like all the other horror franchises, Hellraiser has been due for a reboot for a while. That time has finally come as the new Hellraiser is about to arrive on the streaming service Hulu.
Riley (Odessa Azion) is a young woman struggling with alcoholism and past drug addiction. She works at a bar as a bartender and brings home a man, Trevor (Drew Starkey), with whom she proceeds to have sex. Her roommates and her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn) judge her decisions. They argue, and she leaves. She goes to Trevor for help, and he convinces her to rob a storage unit in an abandoned building, where she finds a puzzle box. This box is more than she bargained for as it starts to cause deaths and disappearances of her friends and family.
The Hellraiser franchise is known for its blood, guts, violence, and gore. This film doesn’t misrepresent that in any way, being as gory and violent as advertised. There is plenty of body horror as well. The Cenobites look disgusting, and I hope I never have to look at them again. Also, there are various scenes where characters get mauled or cut open. This film is not for the faint-hearted. I was taken aback by its gruesome nature, but that comes with the franchise.
Part of what makes the Hellraiser movies iconic and original is the production value they process. This film has a house with secret traps and dangerous contraptions. The house is the least of the crazy things in this movie. The cube itself is one of the wildest items I’ve seen in any film, let alone a horror film. The costumes and make-up on the Cenobites are incredible. It’s some of the best I’ve seen all year. Hopefully, because it’s a horror film, the Academy won’t ignore this fantastic work by the team behind this work. The below-the-line departments bring this film to another level.
This movie has one familiar horror icon in it, Pinhead (Jamie Clayton), previously portrayed by Doug Bradley, but it has a much bigger cast of characters than that. Goran Visnjic plays an enigmatic house owner with a secret agenda Azion’s character and her castmates get wrapped up in. The roommates are played by relative unknowns, but one, in particular, plays a bigger role. He is the lover of Azion’s brother. This cast as a whole is fine. None of them besides Azion is a standout. She is very good given she has a lot of weight to lift in the film.
Not coming from a place of familiarity with this franchise, I am a total outsider looking in regarding the lore behind this series of films. I am coming into it fresh with unencumbered preconceived notions of what came before. With that in mind, I have to say this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill horror film. It created new characters to go along with the old Pinhead, this time out played by a woman, and took the franchise’s lore and used it to do a new fresh story. The scares were there, and the blood and gore never ceased to amaze me. I can honestly say I was scared by some of what I saw, and that’s a rarity these days.
Hellraiser needed a reboot, but it doesn’t mean the reboot was as good as the original films. It’s not, but it’s not that bad of a movie either. The new actress who played Pinhead didn’t control the screen as much as the original did. That wasn’t the main part of the film, though. I was glued to the screen every time Azion spoke. Her performance demanded that I pay attention to her. The blood and gore in the film are on point with the originals. This movie generally scared me by the body horror and violence, which is an accomplishment.
3 1/2 stars
Dan Skip Allen