Hellraiser (2022) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Hellraiser (2022) Review

Horrorific content by adrian on October 11th, 2022 | Movie Review | Supernatural, Demon, Hell, Mystery, Gore, Body Horror, Torture, Dangerous Exploration

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It's about a young woman struggling with addiction who breaks into an enigmatic billionaire's mansion and steals a puzzle box which summons a group of sadistic supernatural beings from another dimension known as the Cenobites.

Hellraiser was directed by David Bruckner (The Night House, The Ritual, and Southbound) and stars Odessa Adlon (Let's Scare Julie), Jamie ClaytonGoran Visnjic (The Accursed, Close Your Eyes), Adam FaisonDrew StarkeyBrandon FlynnAoife HindsJason Liles (Death Note), Yinka Olorunnife, and Selina Lo (The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption).

Hellraiser (2022) Review

Clive Barker's feature debut Hellraiser is adapted from his novella The Hellbound Heart and is a horror classic that needs no introduction. The story introduces readers to the Cenobites, horror icons that live in a hellish world. The denizens of Hell are back in the eleventh Hellraiser movie, this time with a new take by director David Bruckner and screenwriters Luke Piotrowski and Ben Collins. They've brought Hellraiser more in line with what author Clive Barker originally envisioned, but with new, nightmarish visuals.

We are introduced to Roland Voight, a debauched billionaire who enjoys experimenting with the iconic puzzle box. Six months later, Riley, a recovering addict, tells her lover Trevor that she is short on cash after another argument with her brother Matt. Matt is concerned that Riley will relapse back into drug addiction if she gets involved with Trevor again. His concerns seem to be validated when Trevor offers Riley a job that involves breaking into Voight's mansion. However, unbeknownst to Riley, this job will summon evil beings from another dimension when she opens the puzzle box.

Piotrowski and Collins have chosen to keep things simple, allowing Bruckner's powerful imagery to speak for itself. This mythology is rich and complex, without any need for explanation or clarification. Riley races against the clock to discover the origins of the mysterious object she took from Voight. Slowly but surely, she begins to piece together its purpose and mode of operation. This enigmatic quality intrigues her and keeps her focused on the task at hand. The characters take precedence in this story, and that's what makes it so captivating. Riley's turbulent relationship with her brother provides the emotional fuel for the story, particularly when Matt's boyfriend Colin becomes more involved. It's also ironic that a character struggling with addiction is surrounded by a world where obsession often leads to self-destruction. In this way, the puzzle box becomes a symbol of hellish torment.

Bruckner's use of 1990s horror tropes gives the film an unexpected edge. The production design and color palette in the latter half of the movie are particularly reminiscent of Dark Castle films of the late 1990s. The director of the new Hellraiser movie, Greg Bruckner, has said that he wanted to keep with Clive Barker's original vision for the film. In particular, he wanted to make the Cenobites more mysterious and elusive. However, some viewers have found it difficult to see the Cenobites in the darker scenes. The filmmakers' decision to show less of the Cenobites in the new Hellraiser movie creates a greater sense of mystery and excitement for viewers. The creatures are wonderfully designed and their effects are truly horrifying. This new approach to the Cenobites is much more effective than the previous one from the 1990s.

The actress who plays the Hell Priest, the leader of the Cenobites, is truly inspired. Clayton's performance is full of elegance, power, and menace. She brings a new level of understanding to the hierarchy of hell. The film relies largely on A'zion's performance, but Clayton steals every scene she's in.

Worth Watching? 

This new take on Hellraiser prefers a more thoughtful approach over spectacle, focusing on careful plotting and mythology. This makes the runtime feel longer, even knowing that there is still more to discover about the inner workings of the box. There's bloodshed, chains, agony, and misery. A bit of sex, too, though it's pretty tame compared to the rest. Faison brings the moral compass and heart, while A'zion instills rooting interest, but it's the Cenobites that continue to command our horror hearts. Hellraiser infuses enough style and worldbuilding with a mesmerizing new Hell Priest to ensure we're ready to sign up for whatever other sights Bruckner has to show us next.

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