Hellraiser Reboot Has Such Sights to Show You

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer

Plot: A take on Clive Barker’s 1987 horror classic where a young woman struggling with addiction comes into possession of an ancient puzzle box, unaware that its purpose is to summon the Cenobites.

Review: Of all the horror franchises out there Hellraiser might just be the hardest one to successfully reboot. Personally I don’t know many people who think of Hellraiser as their favourite horror franchise; some people don’t even realise there IS a franchise! Yet the series that started with the 1986 movie directed by Clive Barker, who also wrote the novella The Hellbound Heart which Hellraiser is based on, has ten sequels to its name (as well as comics and novels). And with the success of the Halloween reboot and similar horror themed content from the 80s like Chucky seeing positive results, Hellraiser just might be worthy of the reboot treatment too.

What’s in the box? WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!!

It’s directed by David Bruckner, a man who’s no stranger to horror with films like V/H/S and The Night House (the former actually having a few sequels of its own). Bruckner’s appreciation of the original Hellraiser is on full display as this version does a solid job of evoking the feelings the original did. For the most part.

This time around the story follows Riley (Odessa A’zion), a young woman with drug and alcohol issues who’s dating a guy named Trevor (Drew Starkey). Trevor may not be the best influence on Riley, and her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn) who she lives with doesn’t approve of them. One night after an argument with Matt she goes to Trevor who convinces her they need money and should pull off a robbery. But when they open the safe all that’s inside is a puzzle box which of course Riley takes with her. Later that night she has another argument with her brother that leads her to run off to a nearby park where she decides to play the devil’s version of Wheel of Fortune and “solve the puzzle”. In doing so she summons the Cenobites but when Matt comes looking for her he’s taken. And Riley decides the only way to get him back is to master the hellish cube herself.

Why don’t you take a long walk off a short pier?

I loved the new designs of the Cenobites here. They evoked the originals while beautifully standing out on their own. Pinhead, who was made iconic by actor Doug Bradley in the 1986 version, is now played by Jamie Clayton (Sense8) who I didn’t recognize at first but whose distinctive voice stood out the same way Bradley’s did. The design for the new Pinhead was cool as were the others, but there was something a bit too clean about the finished product that made them look more like cosplay than actual “real” entities from Hell. Speaking of too clean, the movie also wasn’t as gory as I thought it would be. It’s not that we don’t get blood and gore, there’s just something muted about it. The original made me squirm, this one did not.

Another area where this reboot falters is with the characters. The original movie shines not just because of the macabre visuals on display but also due to the actors who elevated their characters beyond the usual horror clichés. Here Riley is annoying and somewhat selfish in her motivations which makes it difficult to root for her. We also don’t spend enough time with the other players (with the exception of Adan Faison’s Colin) which means when they are dispatched in admittedly brutal fashion the impact hits but never resonates.

I’m sorry, but these modern fashion trends have gone too far now!

Overall Hellraiser is somewhat successful as a reboot. There’s enough visual panache to keep you watching and I think Jamie Clayton as Pinhead (also known as The Priest) is solid enough in the role that I wouldn’t mind seeing her again, hopefully with a lot more material to chew on though. I think fans of the original will appreciate it as not just another lazy retread but it’s a shame they didn’t take things further as Hellraiser is a movie that’s at its best when the restraints are removed and the horror gets to shine in all its hellish glory.

Score: 6 out of 10

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2755F829-2EEC-4A68-B6F7-F963F48C9D92 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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