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‘Hellraiser’ has sights to show with some room to grow

‘Hellraiser’ has sights to show with some room to grow

‘Hellraiser’ has sights to show with some room to grow
October 15
12:00 2022

David Bruckner’s previous film, “The Night House,” showcased his strength in visual storytelling. It was haunting, with imagery impressive enough to distract you from the horrors buried deep within. Once Bruckner was attached to the newest “Hellraiser” film, audiences were in for pain and pleasure.

This reboot trades traditional tropes for a narratively driven slow burn, complimented considerably by its performances. It exceeds everything it is trying to accomplish.

The film gives viewers the opportunity to appreciate an unpopular approach to horror. It may not be for everyone, but “Hellraiser” is unnerving enough to leave anyone on pins and needles.

Riley finds herself in possession of a puzzle box. What she doesn’t know is the box’s ability to unleash an unspeakable evil on herself and those close to her. This evil comes in the form of the Cenobites, otherworldly beings with supernatural abilities. 

Odessa A’zion brings raw human emotion to the main character, Riley. She is a recovering addict, and there are moments throughout the film where she does things your typical protagonist would not.

Not all main characters have to be kind souls and Riley is still a character you instinctively root for. If this iteration of the franchise chooses to make a sequel, no one would be better than A’zion to play the lead again.

The iconic Pinhead, or Hell Priest, is embodied with perfection by Jamie Clayton. There is a terror in their calm nature, and all the effects work that went into the character’s design is a big chef’s kiss.

The Priest gets just enough screen time to leave viewers satisfied, but wanting more all at the same time. Doug Bradley’s depiction of the character from the original film is untouchable. Clayton’s take on the horror icon should receive resounding love all the same.

The entire film is eye candy. When it is time to get down with some of the blood-soaked moments, the film chooses not to show everything in great detail.

This is where the true genius of “Hellraiser” shines the brightest. You are left to put the pieces together on your own. From the original film to the newest, this franchise is about finding pain and pleasure in unimaginable ways.

This movie encourages you to flesh out gruesome deaths in your head. While some may interpret it as unsatisfying, it adds a whole new level of appreciation. There is still a nice slice of gore for all the kill counters out there, but it is far quieter than some may expect it to be.

This newest entry is fighting an uphill battle already. If it strays too far away from the original, it will be criticized for disrespecting its predecessor. If it feels too familiar, it will be blasted for lacking originality.

Comparison is the killer of joy, so don’t go in attempting to set this film and the original side by side. They both excel at separate things and should be looked at individually.

The bottom line is, “Hellraiser” rules as long as you let it. It feels separate while respecting what came before, showcasing how reboots should be.

“Hellraiser” thrives off of unsettling imagery instead of timed jump scares. Hooks sink into your brain as you are forced to look at the hellish designs of each Cenobite. The amount of time that went into each creature is seen and appreciated, with practical effects showing their superiority.

Actions speak louder than words. The story may be a bit predictable at moments, but it is visually captivating from beginning to end. Believe it or not, it all feels grounded.

Sure, demons from other dimensions are terrorizing our cast, but everything else feels so real. The characters act in a way real people would if they were in this situation.

No one is really here for the human characters. The Cenobites chew up every second of scenery, and each entity is distinguishable in its own disgustingly beautiful way. 

A lack of a theatrical release may limit some from being fully immersed, but it doesn’t change how good this movie is. While Michael Myers and Chucky get the spotlight this October, don’t forget about the blessings Pinhead has provided.

Modernizing “Hellraiser” pumps new life into the franchise. If everyone involved is on board, the possibilities are endless for continuing this story. After all, there are still so many sights to show you.

Jaden’s Rating: 4.25/5

Featured Illustration by Isabella Isquierado

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Jaden Oberkrom

Jaden Oberkrom

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