Thursday 20 October 2022

REVIEW: Hellraiser (2022) - Starring Odessa A'zion and Goran Višnjić

Review by Jon Donnis
Hulu are back with another reboot of a classic horror film. This time Hellraiser gets the Hulu treatment.

Directed by David Bruckner this is the second adaption of the 1986 novella The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker. Of course, the first adaption being the 1987 film Hellraiser. Now whatever you think of the original film, I know some love it and think it is the greatest horror film ever made, others not so much, it is fair to say that one character really stands out, and in quite a terrifying way. Yes Pinhead. Played by Doug Bradley, it was a truly scary character. The way he spoke, moved, the eyes, everything. He was a horror icon! But of course, this is 2022, so everything has to be woke, but we will get onto that later.

We start off with a woman buying a case from a man on the street, she is buying it on behalf of Roland Voight, we quickly then move to a party hosted by said hedonistic millionaire Roland Voight (played by the always interesting Goran Višnjić), in his mansion. A male prostitute, Joey (Kit Clarke) approaches the same woman as earlier, Joey wants to meet Voight, she tells him to go to a place in the mansion. He obliges. He soon finds a mechanical looking puzzle box. As he does Voight comes in, and insists Joey solve the puzzle box. As he does, the box stabs him. Voight then traps Joey in the room. A door then opens, and chains fly out and rip Joey apart. Voight looks to the sky and demands an audience with Leviathan.

We then fast forward 6 years and recovering druggy Riley (Odessa A'zion) is living with her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn), his boyfriend Colin (Adam Faison) and a roommate Nora (Aoife Hinds).

Riley's boyfriend Trevor (Drew Starkey) talks Riley into breaking into an abandoned storage warehouse, he has the keycode, so will be easy to get in. When inside they break into a safe and find the puzzle box from earlier.

Later on, Riley argues with her brother, and goes to the park. At the park she solves the box, but avoids getting cut. Then weird humonid creatures start to appear. They are Cenobites, weird, demonic, alien type creatures. They demand she makes a sacrifice.

Matt finds Riley passed out, as he tries to wake her up, he cuts himself on the puzzle box. Which we soon learn means he will be taken by the Cenobytes.

Ok enough of the story. The basics are this, each time you solve part of the box, a person gets cut and they are taken by the Cenobytes, once the box has been completed, whoever has the box is given a gift by Leviathan, the ruler of wherever the Cenobytes are from, basically Hell.

Special shout out to Selina Lo who plays the Gasp, one of the Cenobytes, she looks amazing!

At 1 hour and 53 minutes, this is a LONG film. Horror films over 90 minutes always struggle in my opinion. 

The big change in this film we are told is that the character of Pinhead is now supposed to be female. The problem here is that with all the makeup, and visual effects, the character just looks androgenous, it is not particularly sexy, so seems pointless having the character change from a clearly male character, to something in the middle. I understand we live in the world of wokedom, and we have a transgender actor playing the part. But I think they missed the point here.

I am reminded of the Borg Queen in Star Trek. Here you have a character that is pure evil. The queen of a collective of part robotic drones. And as much makeup as you put on the character, it still remained feminine. It even had sex appeal, and I think this is what they should have done with the Pinhead character here, if you are going to change its gender, then do it properly.

The film does have its moments, there are some good gory scenes, the visual effects are great, the Cenobytes all look amazing. The story is a bit more straightforward that the weird fest of the original, so will be easier to follow for newcomers to the franchise.

The Good
As a standalone horror film, Hellraiser 2022 does a good job of telling an interesting story, the ending is satisfying if a little predictable.

The Bad
They ruined the most iconic character of the original film, and there is nothing really scary in the film.

I understand that you want to try something different, we know that reboots/remakes of classic horror films tend to fall flat, so I appreciate the efforts to change things up, but I think they missed the boat slightly with the main iconic character. There is an old saying, you can't be half pregnant. Meaning that it should be all or nothing. I think they wanted to tick some woke boxes, but in doing so missed a chance to really change things up. In its own right this is a decent horror film, with some interesting and weird characters. But I just feel like the film should have delivered more. Not weird enough, not scary enough.

I score Hellraiser 2022 a fair 6/10

Out Now on Hulu