After discovering a mysterious puzzle box, a young woman and her friends discover it unlocks another dimension, releasing demonic beings inclined to collect sacrifices. More of a new adaptation than a straight-up remake of the classic 1987 film by Clive Barker, Hellraiser (2022) gives viewers a new look at the terrifying Cenobites.
Newly leading a sober life, Riley (Odessa A’zion) now lives with her well-meaning brother Matt (Brandon Flynn), who’s at his end covering her financially. To make some quick cash, she agrees to break into an abandoned storage container with her new fling Trevor (Drew Starkey). They only find a small safe, which after cracking it open, only contains an intricate puzzle box.
Riley takes the box to eventually pawn, but after getting into an argument with Matt, she relapses and begins toying with it. Nearly out of it, she sees disturbing, mutilated creatures lurking. When she comes to, Matt has disappeared. Convinced it has something to do with the box, she makes it her mission to uncover more about it and its previous owner in the hopes of finding her brother.
I’ll be honest I’m not a Cenobite purist. I only recently revisited the original after many years, and admittedly, I’ve never watched the many sequels that followed. So I can’t speak to the film from a major fan point of view, but this adaptation feels like a worthy reimagining of the classic. Director David Bruckner (The Night House, The Ritual) delivers something that feels honest to the original but breathes new life into it.
The 1987 version includes many impressive practical effects, from the Cenobite designs to other various gags. This new installment sees a familiar yet slightly altered look for the Cenobites, which gives them an even more ominous presence with their gruesome body modifications on full display.
We’re also treated to several equally gruesome gags throughout the film, though it could have pushed some of them further to compete with the original.
But the film’s biggest hurdle was whether or not Jamie Clayton could adequately step into the shoes of the films icon, Pinhead, originally played menacingly by Doug Bradley. Clayton does the role justice and nails the delivery, looking terrifying doing so. There’s almost an etherial-likeness to her performance. My only complaint was that I craved even more, though, in comparison, her screen time is on par with the original.
Hellraiser (2022) is a refreshing modern adaptation. It feels made for a new audience with respect to the film—and novel—that started it all. It’s not without some minor flaws, mainly a couple underdeveloped pieces, but it’s a great watch nonetheless, and I’d be eager to see a follow-up.
Hellraiser is available on Hulu on October 7
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