There have been a number of re-imaginings or reboots of significant horror films of late. Be it Scream (2022), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022), or Goodnight Mommy (2022). Now comes the turn of Hellraiser, Clive Barker’s vision of a realm that delicately balances the line of pleasure and pain from the novella, The Hellbound Heart. Initially brought to the screen by Barker himself back in 1987, the franchise has seen eleven instalments including this latest venture.
Charged with bringing this to light is Director David Bruckner, who has already proved his worth with solid features, The Ritual and The Night House. The focus in steering this before a new generation horror aficionados is the lament configuration, a puzzle box that opens the portal into another realm where extra dimensional beings known as cenobites lurk in the hopes of luring souls into exploring the outer reaches of sensualness through pain, suffering and satisfaction.
The Cenobites are led by The Hell Priest known as Pinhead, most notably portrayed by Doug Bradley in the past, but has seen Stephen Smith Collins and Paul T. Taylor also takes on the role which now falls into the hands of Jamie Clayton to add a more gender fluid adaptation. This allows Pinhead to weave a more sexual and sinister enticement into the realm beyond and one that Clayton captures successfully.
Hellraiser (2022) needs to find its modern voice too and does so by centring on a sibling relationship, bound by blood but torn apart by one’s vices. Riley (Odessa A’zion) is a recovering drug addict who is constantly being bailed out of dire situations by her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn). This relationship however is strained one last time when Riley is lured in by her boyfriend Trevor (Drew Starkey), to break into an abandoned warehouse to steal some goods, only to encounter the lament configuration. This discovery leads them down a path of no return, where those they are closest to will be drawn down with them.
Will Riley claw her way to survival or find a way to bargain with ‘The Surgeons’ and the Leviathan; the king of hell?
All the while another piece of the puzzle is at play with a hedonistic millionaire, Roland Voight (Goran Višnjić) who is trying to equally pull the strings of those who encounter the lament configuration in an effort to fulfil his own twisted desires. Whoever will find the right combination and reap their rewards will be pushed to the final scenes, but the cost of the victor may or may not be as expected.
I have always respected the art and vision of Clive Barker, and while it’s hard to top the original vision (One that Barker helmed himself), it’s great to see the world of cenobites, Pinhead and The Hellbound Heart brought before a modern audience.
Director Bruckner once again proves he can adapt mythology and mystery with a troubled heart and its centre through a well-constructed narrative.
My one criticism is how polished it feels at times which takes away from the dark and twisted viscera that runs through Barker’s world.
– Saul Muerte