“Hellraiser,” the 2022 version of “Hellraiser,” the horror franchise reboot, frequently resembles an artistic and well-made payback to “Hellraiser,” Clive Barker’s notoriously squirmy and sometimes terrifying 1987 screamer. The slow speed, scattered focus and spooky ghastliness of the film is a reflection of the nature of his film debut as a director, and an adequate adaptation of his novella from 1986 The Hellbound Heart.
The first time you watch “Hellraiser” still feels like experiencing a sexy that is, even if it’s now a well-known, event. In the film, Barker introduces readers to the Cenobites which are god-like sadists that threaten their victims with sexual experiences that go over what they (or our) outdated knowledge of pleasure and pain. “Hellraiser,” the new version of “Hellraiser” evokes Barker’s original adaptation in the same way that an excellent cover song evokes its original source material: through love and intelligence as well as an inevitable crushing redundant. There’s no need for “Hellraiser,” but it can be entertaining at times even if you’ve never watched “Hellraiser” in a while.
The film “Hellraiser,” made 35 years ago and nine sequels to the original, appears shrewd and uninvolved, while the version of Barker reflected his distinctive preferences and sensibilities. The most innovative improvements in this “Hellraiser” canon will only be obvious to the existing fans as the creators of the latest film awkwardly add a spoof of a monster film on top of an emotional character study. Riley (Odessa A’zion) who is grieving for her former addict, stumbles across the Cenobites when she is searching for their missing brother Matt (Brandon Flynn) who has previously had a snub at Riley for choosing to stay with her unsavory lover Trevor (Drew Starkey).
The director David Bruckner (“The Night House,” “The Ritual”) and co-writers Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski’s dedication to the retread fails make a meaningful connection between the Cenobites to Riley as well as her character’s conviction that she’s the victim of forces out of her reach. It’s true, of course and so is Matt who vanishes shortly after Matt and Riley are in a bad fall out. They fight over Riley’s bizarre behavior, which actually refers to her relationship with her cavalier Trevor who is known for drinking with Riley despite being a participant in a 12-step course.
The story doesn’t show how Trevor or Matt’s relationship with Riley is developed much in the course of time (it’s 120 minutes long people) as a lot of the story revolves around the appearance and eventual disappearance Cenobites. They pursue Riley since she steals and then accidentally unlocks the gilded box. However, Riley just steals this box that fans of horror will immediately identify as a method to summon the Cenobites since Trevor is adamant about her to do so. Riley will also continue to ensnare herself in the Cenobites’ tale–which links the box to its former owner, the elusive wealthy man Bohemian Mr. Voight (Goran Visnjic)–in the hopes that capturing it will lead Matt the girl she loves back.
The other characters in this film, a brand-new “Hellraiser,” including Matt’s boyfriend Colin (Adam Faison) and Riley’s roommate Nora (Aoife Hinds) Only have personalities sufficient to be able to respond to any incidental danger arises due to Riley’s search for answers. That general lack of personality wouldn’t be so bad if there wasn’t so much dead air throughout–seriously, one hundred and twenty-one–which mainly gives viewers time to wonder who exactly these new Cenobites are and why their opaque personalities now have all of the charm of well-restored hand-me-downs.
Although, the Cenobites are redesigned to appear frighteningly scary and are cleverly depicted in this film as inter-dimensional sharks that demonstrate their innate cruelty by endlessly circling around Riley and her companions. Bruckner who has already established his reputation for the effects-driven scares in two of his previous films, proves it time and time again with a handful of memorable and traumatic moments. (I was not expecting to see REDACTED entry into REDACTED’s REDACTED.)
Bruckner will also confirm the notion that his bold, but not entirely convincing previous film, “The Night House,” indicated in terms of his sloppy disregard for the character and continuity of the narrative. Even the agonizing demise from Serena (Hiam Abbass) who is Voight’s exhausted assistant appears insignificant as her character isn’t reflected in the setting scenes nor her seemingly endless fight against the Cenobites. It’s always a pleasure to have Abbass appear in productions with English subtitles however, the diminutive actress is able to only play as a character supporting her who’s mostly a character and less of someone to be a person.
However, there’s a possibility that you’ll be a fan of Bruckner’s “Hellraiser” if you’ve seen or enjoyed the Barker film “Hellraiser.” This updated version isn’t connected very smoothly from scene to scene and doesn’t make any improvements to Barker’s original characters that were merely ever good plot ideas initially. There are, however many enjoyable and thrilling scenes to keep you waiting for some thing to happen.
On Hulu today.