HOLLYWOOD—I have always been a fan of the 1987 horror classic, “Hellraiser.” The flick written and directed by Clive Barker is iconic because it is unlike any other horror movie in my opinion. It is not a slasher people, it’s not a ghost story, I really don’t know how to explain it, but it’s a fun watch. So I heard rumblings for years about a potential remake and nearly 35 years after the original we have a remake people and I enjoyed it thoroughly. There are indeed some changes from the original and that iconic puzzle box that summons the Cenobites led by Pinhead, but this time Doug Bradley is not taking on the iconic role, it’s a woman, portrayed by Jamie Clayton.
The fact that a woman portrayed the iconic villain that is all about pain and pleasure I had no qualms about it. Clayton embodied the role, the subtle danger and the visual terror of the villain who makes promises that are not always as they seem, more on that later. This tale revolves around a Riley (Odessa A’zion), who is struggling with drug addiction. I like that the writers utilized this concept as a narrative starting point of the film. What better way to have a person play with the puzzle box than someone who is struggling physically and mentally to stay on a clear path?
At that core, she is constantly at odds with her brother, Matt (Brandon Flynn), who is doing his best to keep his sister on a clear path, but she is drinking and just not taking responsibility to financially take care of herself. The tension between brother and sister is at a feverish high and after a fight it all puts things into perspective when Matt goes missing. Riley does have someone by her side, Trevor (Drew Starkey), who she met during her 12-step program. At first it appears Trevor might be using Riley, simply for sex, but as the film progresses things become clear.
It is vital to point that the original “Hellraiser” really focused on the notion of pain and pleasure. There is sex in this movie people, it’s just that simple. It’s not for kids and that thematic material is an important propelling point for the movie to progress in the direction that it does where people are curious to play with that box that Riley and Trevor stumble upon. Note to people in future horror flicks, if you find a safe and within that safe is another safe then another safe to prevent something from being unearthed that might be a clear sign that you should leave that item alone.
The Cenobites are visually stunning and grotesque, which is how they were made to be as a motif to the notion of pain and is viciously bloody. This movie makes you cringe a bit people and all I will say is chains and hooks are at its core and that vicious tearing of the flesh will indeed make you turn your eyes away on countless occasions. The evolution for this remake all goes back to the puzzle box which is way more complicated than the original. The box constantly shifts and changes and with each configuration, it is a revelation of something more sinister at play. The box allows you to bring your greatest wishes and fears to light and it should be a clear sign STAY AWAY FROM THE BOX!
I was all in on this movie that has a compelling narrative, smart storytelling, an intriguing protagonist and a fantastic villain. It’s not your typical horror flick and that is something I appreciate greatly. It is a sign that horror can indeed evolve and I am intrigued to see what the writers might do if a sequel is to come to light. While not released in theaters, I could see Hulu crafting another tale and reinvigorating the fan base that checked out after “Hellraiser: Bloodline” in 1996 was the last installment that went to theaters people. Each subsequent flick went directly to video which is NEVER a good sign people, but the 2022 “Hellraiser” is a fun treat for scares just in time for Halloween.