Film Review – Hellraiser (2022)

35 years after the cult Clive Barker British horror was released, we have a new reboot. One could argue why we need a reboot of franchise that’s already had 10 sequels? 8 of those movies went direct to DVD all lacklustre to outright abysmal. So what can David Bruckner’s 2022 version deliver that Barker’s couldn’t?

Very little.

Loosely based on Clive Barker’s Hellbound Heart novella we find ourselves moving from the UK to USA. The story follows 20 something addict Riley (Odessa A’zion ) whose life is plague by booze and drugs. She is on the programme to recover and stays at her overbearing, brother Matt’s (Brandon Flynn) home with his boyfriend Colin (Adam Faison) . Riley loves her brother but is always at odds with him who does not like her new boyfriend Trevor (Drew Starkey).

With little to no money to her name Riley agrees to rob a warehouse/home with Trevor. She gets her hands on an ancient puzzle box which she mucks about with strange things start to happen. Strange and haunting visitation from otherworldly beings clad in tortured flesh and her brother has disappeared. Pushing to try find her missing brother and those beings are responsible for his disappearance. Quickly learning Riley has unleashed the Cenobites, sadistic and supernatural beings from another dimension.

Like many movies over the past few years Hellraiserhas found itself released differently form originally planned. The pandemic changed the way we watched movies. Now digitally as well as streaming services next to cinemas.

Bruckner over the past few years I have grown to appreciate his movies. Going all the way back to his totally bonkers 2007 The Signal to more recently to The Ritual (2017) and The Night House (2021). All equally brilliant in their own ways and gave you a sense this reboot was in safe hands. He does lay down some solid foundations potential future sequels. Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski’s script does have many of the tropes we expect, they seem to forget some pivotal components.

The Cenobites are creatures of hedonism, forbidden desires and sex. Creatures of pleasure, the 2022 lacks sex, it’s there in a blink you miss scene. It’s also thematically important. Bruckner ambitiously also attempts to not play it safe replicating the 1987 classic. This does leave many holes in the plot especially when it comes to the history of the box. Also the world building feels under developed or is he hoping that future movies the chance to build will happen? The puzzle box mythology was much needed here rather than the nostalgia from the original.

As for the design of the Cenobites, all credit to Josh and Sierra Russell who find the beauty in the grotesque and macabre. Jamie Clayton is Pinhead or ‘The Priest’ a worthy and measured performance that will please hardcore fans. The chains, are too and morbidly deliver damage we expect.

It seems the drugs rather than the pleasures of sex seem to be the main focus. The destruction and the impact on others pushing Riley to make bad decision calls. It fails to truly connect with that mythology of the box and this is a movie that is about the box that corrupts rather than the individuals in it’s presence.

Hellraiser is a flawed solid entry into a franchise that’s not had it so good since 1987.

★★★

Horror, Mystery | USA, 2022 | 18 | 31st October 2022 (UK) | Prime Video | Paramount Pictures UK | Dir.David Bruckner | Odessa A’zion, Jamie Clayton, Adam Faison, Drew Starkey, Goran Visnjic, Selina Lo

Originally posted at The Peoples Movies, 17th October 2022 | Original Link

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