October 5th, 2022
STARRING: ODESSA A’ZION, JAMIE CLAYTON, GORAN VISNJIC, DREW STARKEY, ADAM FAISON
DIRECTED BY: DAVID BRUCKNER
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
It was quite evident that director David Bruckner had his sights set on making a new Hellraiser film after what we saw from The Night House. What may be missing from his new installment is that impressive lead performance from Rebecca Hall, but that’s not this movie anyway, but instead we are ushered into a new realm of darkness. What is evident from frame one is that Bruckner has great respect for what Clive Barker made in the 1987 original Hellraiser, a respect that goes far among the horror fan community, and instead of just focusing on the mutilated body imagery, he’s crafted a story of survival. That word: survival, that is ultimately what Bruckner is poking at, luring the audience down a path, and then trapping them in a cage. The final result is not exactly perfect, but incredibly fascinating, as this new Hellraiser sinks its hooks into you and refuses to let you go.
The lead character is Riley (Odessa A’zion), a recovering alcoholic, living with her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn), his boyfriend Colin (Adam Faison), and their other roommate Nora (Aoife Hinds); And Riley’s issues have already fractured the peace in the house. She’s involved herself with Trevor (Drew Starkey) and Matt’s worried about her being sexually involved with another AA member. His suspicions are right, as Trevor leads Riley to break into a storage unit, all with the hope of finding a large sum of cash in a locked safe. They break in and find something else, a box, a puzzle, or something worse. When Riley comes in possession of it she messes with it, causing it to shift and change, and when opened it causes Matt to disappear. This leads Riley down a labyrinth, an investigation into where the puzzle box came from, and what she finds at the end is a terrifying gathering of demons making her life a new kind of hell.
One factor that audiences will be looking forward to about this new Hellraiser are the special effects and makeup work on the new collection of cenobites. Those expectations will be met, as we’re introduced to a new version of The Priest (played stupendously by Jamie Clayton), which is the role of the fan named “pinhead”, and although she is the main attraction, all the creatures have uniquely horrific designs. It’s also a perfect balance of flesh being ripped, while a story is being told as the screenplay by Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski, and David S. Goyer, decidedly focusing on Riley’s internal despair, which becomes passed onto those around her.
It’s that sense of gathering that grows into both the good and the slightly bad. When our characters arrive at the mansion of wealthy megalomaniac Voight (Goran Visnjic), it’s a beautiful elaborate home, with shifting rooms, doors, and walls. It makes for a front-runner on elaborate set designs, but the negative are the brief moments of characters standing around inactive. That’s still not enough for any major complaints and deeper conversations with characters leads to a more active environment and that’s obviously what Bruckner is trying to achieve.
What it ultimately came to was that I couldn’t let this Hellraiser escape from my mind. That’s a major compliment when new films arrive with sequels too late or try too hard- I’m looking at you Halloween Kills. Previously, the series of films went off the rails with multiple sequels (I’ve seen all of them) but it’s safe to say they are now back on track. The deeper character of Riley played by A’zion is what I was able to latch onto, as her internal struggles with sobriety feel very real, and no matter how many times you see it, audiences love the appearance of cenobite. This Hellraiser has all the sites to show you.
HELLRAISER IS ON HULU EXCLUSIVELY OCTOBER 7TH, 2022
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady