Hellraiser is a reinvigorated reboot that gets the blood pumping, starting with Jamie Clayton’s worthy Pinhead performance that sets a fresh tone with immense reverence paid to Clive Barker's works

Hellraiser (2022) Review


Hellraiser will be streaming on Hulu on Oct. 7, 2022.

David Bruckner's Hellraiser is an excitably reverent retooling of Clive Barker's original horror classic and the author's novella, The Hellbound Heart. Writers Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski take David S. Goyer's story treatment into alternate realms of sensual punishment, far from Kirsty Cotton's encounter with the Lament Configuration. Barker's Hellraiser favors ‘80s horror tendencies of a more stripped but graphic nature — Bruckner's able to expand storytelling and scope, going with a "bigger" mentality that still writhes with infernal carnal pleasures. It's respectfully indebted to Barker's psycho-sexual confrontation of eroticism and violent punishments. Yet, Bruckner never attempts to retrace what Barker's already colored outside typical horror lines — Hellraiser 2022 thematically raises hell on his newly renovated terms.
Odessa A'zion stars as Riley McKendry, an early-20s addict trying to cleanse her habits with a 12-Step Program. Brother Matt (Brandon Flynn) is her loving but overbearing housemate, who chases her out after another night when Riley stumbles home drunk after seeing new boyfriend Trevor (Drew Starkey). That night wasn't just tainted by substance abuse, though — Riley and Trevor steal an ancient puzzle box that Riley unlocks after ingesting a few pills. In a drug haze, she's visited by The Priest (Jamie Clayton), this cross between angel and demon with pins stuck into her smooth head. She warns of the box's hunger for blood and what it demands, which begins another Hellraiser tale where humans are shown sights they cannot comprehend — gory sights that flay, pierce, and strip away skin.
Clayton is a harbinger vision as Bruckner's The Priest (aka Pinhead), introducing repulsively chic new Cenobite forms. Gone are the black leather BDSM costumes; pale cadavers with exposed muscle tendons are like peeled underworld bananas. Effects artists Josh and Sierra Russell reteam with Bruckner after The Ritual and The Night House to bring concept designer Keith Thompson's Cenobites to life, honoring favorites like "The Chatterer" with the instruction to ensure silicon suits could handle mobility. There's nothing lost with Cenobites covering more ground, acting as hunt-and-stalk creatures throughout Berkshires manor grounds. From The Masque (Vukašin Jovanovic) with his flesh-stretched facial canvas being where his head should be to The Gasp (Selina Lo), an extreme upgrade to a prior Cenobite dubbed "Deep Throat,” Bruckner's extradimensional beings appear as wishmasters exiled from heaven and accomplish looking revoltingly seductive while breathing new life into the franchise.
The way Clayton nods to original Pinhead actor Doug Bradley is evident in stoic mannerisms, but Bruckner’s The Priest separates itself thanks to Clayton's performance. She saunters with spectral grace and gazes through characters as she curiously questions their darkest desires. Maybe "philosophical" isn't the right word, but close? Clayton's inquisition as The Priest is appropriately unsettling — her voice echoes an ethereal reverberation as she remains stone-faced while sniveling mortals plead for mercy. She nails the higher-power allure of Cenobites who grant box users the ultimate pleasures they seek, blurring the lines between fear and excitement to unspeakable depths.
Meanwhile, A'zion shines as the flawed addict trying to do better who still cannot deny momentary impulses. Everyone's endangered because Riley can't say “no”: Matt, Trevor, Matt's sweetheart boyfriend Colin (Adam Faison), and their other housemate Nora (Aoife Hinds). A'zion explores the trials of addiction and who gets hurt in the process, using the choices Riley is forced to make when the box starts claiming souls. In proper Hellraiser fashion, the performances of A'zion and Clayton are key — The Priest says as long as Riley possesses the box, fates are in her hands. Riley asks for repentance, howls in agony, and transitions between countless emotions that A’zion executes with emphasis that pours out of the screen.
Hellraiser is more dazzling than it is sickeningly sadomasochistic through slimy gore effects.
Elsewhere, Hellraiser 2022 transforms the sex dungeon aesthetic of Frank Cotten's attic into something vastly more marbled and elaborate. The box has six shape-shifting configurations, granting the props department freedom to redesign each geometric evolution. Goran Visnjic portrays the film's Frank-iest character Roland Voight, leaving behind his estate dedicated to decadent pleasure-seeking that eventually becomes important to Riley's unholy plot to vanquish the Cenobites. Hellraiser favors more of a puzzlemaker's oddity, benefitting from movable labyrinth houses like in Thir13en Ghosts or even escape room horrors. Bruckner digs into the godless worship of those corrupted by the box's possibilities despite its proven harm, which sometimes does too much within its a bit too bloated duration — yet exemplifies how reboots can thoughtfully recontextualize and rebirth iconic franchises.
Surprisingly, Bruckner — responsible for grotesque bodily mutilation in his Southbound segment "The Accident” — doesn't meet the extreme practical gloopiness of 1987's Hellraiser tortures. The Cenobite's first claimed target doesn't even earn a euphoric end on-screen. The filmmaker's psychologically driven dread found in The Night House plays into wonderfully trippy moments where Cenobites appear from randomly materialized tunnels or stress the regret that weighs on Riley — not the violence itself. Although, gore still exists between exposed Cenobite wounds and mechanisms that, for example, tug on wearers' nerves strung through moving gears that continually cause nagging pain. Hellraiser is more dazzling than it is sickeningly sadomasochistic through slimy gore effects as a stylistic differentiation that leaves Barker's bloodletting untouched — nor is the tone as poisonously randy.
Best Horror Movies So Far In 2022<b>X</b>
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Ti West’s X is as glorious and malevolent a return to horror features that anyone could ask for from the indie filmmaker turned prolific television director. IGN’s official review gave X an 8 out of 10, which I come in a little higher on myself. West’s incorporation of countless influences from Giallo to 70s sleazeploitation makes for an artfully chaotic brand of contemporary slasher. It’s handily one of A24’s better horror films, filled with gratuitous but oh-so-slick gore and all the sweltery southern terrorization in films like The Town That Dreaded Sundown or The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
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Performances across the board help make X so memorable. It’s Jenna Ortega’s year in horror without any question, but she’s only one piece to X’s blood-splattered puzzle. Brittany Snow, Kid Cudi, Mia Goth, and more play above-and-beyond parts as pornographers trying to elevate their medium. West has loads of fun comparing horror to pornography in terms of public perception, while characters are granted agency beyond easy stereotypes. What’s not to like about a sex-positive slasher that swings a big ego and delivers as promised?<b>The Black Phone</b>
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Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill strike horror gold again with The Black Phone. IGN’s official review dials in a 9 out of 10, as Amelia concludes, “The Black Phone mixes the supernatural with relatable horrors in ways that will leave you both terrified and hopeful.” It’s that hopefulness that I wasn’t expecting because Ethan Hawke’s child kidnapper “The Grabber” sure is a nasty son-of-a-gun. Child actors Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw play their parts so tremendously well, it's impossible not to leave thinking the kids will be alright.
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Direction goes a long way for The Black Phone because Derrickson shows a confident and transformative command of The Grabber’s basement. It feels massive when Thames’ victim searches around for escape clues and claustrophobic when The Grabber comes downstairs to enhance sensations of chilly isolation. Add in a few paranormal scares and killer mask designs by Tom Savini, and you’ve got a definitive crowd-pleasing horror film worth acclaim. Not like that’s anything new for the team behind Sinister.<b>Nope</b>
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Jordan Peele’s no stranger to “Best of” horror lists between Get Out and Us — and Nope is no different. It’s Peele having a blast with Twilight Zone influences on a Speilbergian sci-fi scale. We don’t toss around the term “Event Horror” anymore (used to describe blockbuster horror flicks that devour the screen) but Peele has become a champion for such spectacle filmmaking now for a third time with Nope. Audiences will find an immensely entertaining UFO mystery with laughs and chills — but that’s just on the surface.
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Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, and Steven Yeun explore the nasty histories of minorities being tossed aside and forgotten by Hollywood. Our ugly relationship with spectacles is put on display while Peele still manages to keep us in awe of the overarching alien threat. Peele operates outside the more overt social commentaries of Get Out and Us, without ditching a directorial voice that’s arguably the most unique in contemporary horror cinema. In Peele we trust, and there’s a reason IGN gave the film a 9 out of 10 in our official review.<b>Scream</b>
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Radio Silence’s Scream sequel does right by franchise creators Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson. It’s a requel that plays into all the tropes and decades-later revamps that have tried tirelessly to revive franchises gasping for air. IGN’s Amelia Emberwing gave the film a 9 out of 10, saying, “All of the performances are pitch-perfect, the kills are gnarly, and no version of toxic fandom is left unmocked.” I agree with those words, since the film so lovingly pays homage to multiple threads from Williamson’s original script with all the sharp genre commentary Craven loved to exploit.
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The year of “Jenna Ortega: Our Scream Queen” continues since she stars alongside Melissa Barrera as slasher surviving sisters, meeting franchise favorites like Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courteney Cox. There’s no chip on the shoulders of Radio Silence as they direct through another massacre that’s the most violent and relentless to date, yet comedy thrives as Jasmin Savoy Brown becomes the Meeks we deserve. Scream (2022) channels Craven, guts “Horror Twitter” with scathing commentary against gatekeepers, and feels comfortably at home in the franchise. That’s all Scream fans can ask for, shake ups and all.<b>The Innocents</b>
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In my IGN review for The Innocents, I conclude, “The Innocents is a slow-burner that stars a majority small-fry cast and yet is far more poised and impactful than those descriptions suggest.” What’s so stunning about this dark Norwegian take on children with superpowers is how mature the film treats its subjects. There’s never a desire to water-down dire consequences because wee younglings are in charge. If anything, the screenplay amplifies concepts around children not understanding the harm they can cause and how quickly some are forced to grow up.
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It’s a playground metaphor for unchecked aggression and the corruption of unlimited powers. Kids start levitating rocks and realizing they’re far more special than their parents ever imagined — both a blessing and a curse. Horror elements interfere when one child uses his abilities in hurtful ways, as the other powered children wonder how to stop his rein of terror. It’s an impactful film about choices and how quickly humans succumb to their worst impulses, made immensely more impactful given the age of all players involved.<b>Watcher</b>
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I liked Watcher a tad more than IGN’s Amelia Emberwing, whose 7 out of 10 review says, “The story will linger too long for some, but anyone willing to stick with it is in for a treat.” Chloe Okuno’s feature debut needs nothing more than a woman abroad and the man whose eyes are always locked on said woman’s figure. It’s highlighting horrors of the outside world, as society repeatedly tells women they’re perfectly safe and to stop overreacting, right before another innocent life is taken by some dude who stalked another innocent soul home late one night.
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Maika Monroe stars as the American wife of a businessman who relocates to Bucharest, Romania. Even without Burn Gorman’s insidious neighbor who ends up being the “Watcher,” Okuno does well to accentuate the loneliness of a partner doing right by their spouse through sacrifice and discomfort. Then the social commentary and voyeuristic unrest take over as both Maika and Burn do their best on the respective sides of an invasive, grossly vulnerable stalker scenario that uses reality as the utmost impetus for horror cinema. Why create imaginary monsters when our lives are filled with real ones?
This story originally appeared on: IGN - Author:Matt Donato

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