HELLRAISER  (REVIEW)
Dir. David Bruckner
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
HELLRAISER is a reinvention of the series and one that tells a whole new story allowing newcomers to understand the mystique and appeal of Clive Barker's most famous work. Cleverly the film wraps around plot points from the 1987 iconic work and it's sequel HELLBOUND and brings it up to date for modern Horror audiences by wrapping around a cast of newcomers caught in the world of pain and pleasure.
This is not the first film that replaces Doug Bradley as the famous antagonist but is the biggest side move by casting a female variation of the character. This is also a reinvention of the series that has had a number of failed restart opportunities in the past few years.
After all of the controversy, Jamie Clayton is perfect casting for Pinhead and amongst her legion of Cenobites are the best things about HELLRAISER. The terror and menace bought on screen mirrors that executed so well by Bradley and company it's hard to distinguish the two. Unfortunately though, they seem to be in a completely different film to that which is played out on screen.
The decision to turn the series into a FINAL DESTINATION like slasher is a catastrophe and loses the symbolism and chaos that the series has been famed for. The biggest flaw with this remake/reboot/sequel/parallel story is that none of the characters actually desire the contents of the ox leaving the film to be nothing more than a series of shallow deaths all pointing to an antagonist who is at odds with a cast fighting to survive.
There's much to enjoy here and the films transition from body horror to jump scare territory is interesting with some of 2022s best in screen deaths. In addition to Ben Lovett's score which is sublime, bringing elements of horror, and the mystical romance echoed from Christopher Young's.
The new cast are great with what they are given and the diversity feels natural, something many films still struggle to do but blended with Barker's imagination and world building kinks it feels like a very missed opportunity to really delve into the ambiguities and spectrum of sexuality.
Like the opening of the Lament Configuration, HELLRAISER pulls at the flesh and rips apart the franchise mashing together stories and scares from both the series and genre to create a Frankenstein's monster of a film. Newcomers will have a great introduction and while some of it works, some of it doesn't and fans of the original will see there are better sights to show you.