A young woman struggling with addiction comes into possession of an ancient puzzle box, unaware that its purpose is to summon the Cenobites, a group of sadistic supernatural beings from another dimension.

  • Released:
  • Runtime: 120 minutes
  • Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thrillers
  • Stars: Jamie Clayton, Odessa A'zion, Drew Starkey, Brandon Flynn, Goran Visnjic, Adam Faison, Aoife Hinds, Hiam Abbass, Selina Lo, Jason Liles, Yinka Olorunnife, Zachary Hing, Kit Clarke, Predrag Bjelac, Gorica Regodić, Vukašin Jovanović, Ivona Kustudić, Greg De Cuir, Miodrag Milovanov, Nikola Kent, Katarina Gojković
  • Director: David Bruckner
  • salemzin - 2 July 2024
    Finally Hellraiser
    "Hellraiser" (2022) makes the franchise relevant again after years of poorly executed and disappointing productions, starting a reboot of the saga and disregarding the other titles.

    The film respects the mythology of the initial films, proposing new approaches to Lemarchand's Cube and the Cenobites. The larger budget brought with it more credibility and power that the project needed, allowing the creation of better digital effects, which are some of the most convincing in the entire franchise. The plot develops calmly until the final presentation of the Cenobites, highlighting Jamie Clayton's performance as The Priest, a spiritual successor to Pinhead. Although the Cenobites' design delivers good results, the characteristic black clothes are missing from the characters' composition. The plot builds different premises from other works in the saga, minimally recycling elements previously presented.

    After years without productions that respected the universe created by Clive Barker, "Hellraiser" revitalized the saga and enabled the construction of a new, completely independent and renewed timeline.
  • fernandoschiavi - 1 February 2024
    Using horror genre clichés that flirt with slasher, the film maintains elements, brutality and torture as the highlights proving this film is a good reboot to the franchise
    This version by Bruckner does not even reach the tip of any nail driven into Bradley's head, making any direct comparison impossible, but it is an above average production and the proposal and its conception should be praised. And it would be really unlikely that the new film could go head-to-head with the classic. With dirty photography and a script that expel blood and entrails, Clive Barker's film is steeped in pessimism, functioning as psychological torture for the viewer, terrified by those deformed creatures that reside in the darkest environments. It was released at a time when the genre embraced horror with touches of humor, with a talkative Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees forming smiley faces on tree trunks, and the genre developing into productions with teenagers and children as protagonists, such as "The Hour do Espanto", "The Lost Boys", "Gremlins"... In these trends that went against the realistic and violent horror of the 1970s, "Hellraiser" basically developed as something different in the genre. Clive Barker presented himself as the "future of horror", in the intense words of Stephen King, serving more than just a gimmick for the production's VHS, but also a prediction that was not completed.

    David Bruckner's reboot begins with lawyer Serena Menaker (Hiam Abbass) in Belgrade, Serbia, acquiring the terrible box from one Lorenz (Predrag Bjelac) at the request of her boss, billionaire and art collector Roland Voight (Goran Visnjic). At his mansion in the Berkshires, Massachusetts, Voight induces prostitute Joey (Kit Clarke) to try to decipher the puzzle, in one of its final configurations, and he is injured by a blade from the artifact, leaving him in a state of torpor, until chains emerge to tear your body apart. Six years later, ex-addict Trevor (Drew Starkey) convinces his girlfriend Riley (Odessa A'zion) to break into an abandoned warehouse owned by a rich man. There, in a safe, they find the box, without knowing what it is capable of doing. After Riley gets involved with drinking and drugs again, she is kicked out of the house by her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn), who lives with her friend Nora (Aoife Hinds) and is dating Colin (Adam Faison). When trying to decipher the box, Riley is injured, just like Joey, and starts to see strange creatures, called cenobites, who say that she must bring other people to the dimension, through the artifact. The first to disappear is Matt, which leads the girl to seek information about the owners of the warehouse, linked to the name of Serena, who is admitted to a hospital under observation. Soon, she will be taken to the mansion of the also missing Voight and will need to find a way to get rid of the peculiar entities and especially one, with several nails stuck to its head.

    As you can see, this is an original story, written by David S. Goyer, Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski. And the differences are quite evident, even though they allow comparisons. Frank Cotton's physical reconstruction in the original work was replaced by Riley's psychological one. Destroyed by addictions, without even understanding her own feelings, she is the Configuration of Laments itself, something to be deciphered. Thus, a parallel cannot be drawn with the heroine Kirsty, but something closer to Julia, who seduced men to feed the "reborn from hell" in the original work. This time the delivery is not so much intentional as occasional; and her reconstruction is noticeable through the torture to which she is subjected in the narrative.

    If the original cenobites appeared simply to torture those who messed with the box, here they are more physical beings, who cross the portal and can be seen by anyone. They circle the mansion, configured by Voight's studies, and patiently wait for an opportunity to reach their objects of pleasure. In this way, even though their reach is made by changes in the structure of the place where the summons is made, once the portal is crossed, the beings become more tangible than those seen in the classic. There, there was an uneasy feeling of supernatural power, of appearances when you least expect it. Once exposed, they no longer hide in the darkness of the environment. And the conceptions of the cenobites themselves, including Pinhead, are also different. Without black clothes, without the leather, which was associated with sadomasochism, the entities are more visually clear, although repugnant, with stretched skin, exposure of organs. They are also talkative, not leaving expression only to their leader, magnifying the nightmare of their macabre voices. Jamie Clayton's Pinhead raises goosebumps due to its expressed perversity. It doesn't have the same blunt lines as the original character, but it creates an interesting link with the demonic dimension. It must be seen as a unique, powerful and absolute being, open to negotiations, allowing dialogue, responding to requests and exchanges.

    In Clayton's Pinhead there is an air of priesthood within her - and less of sadomasochism - than her predecessor. However, still the same thoughts are present there. Demons for some, angels for others. And his way of having fun, of bringing unspeakable pleasure, is through a lot of suffering, with the use and abuse of highly graphic scenes. So, obviously, Hellraiser also stands out in the persistent - and correct - use of blood and injuries leaking everywhere, but without exposing it all the time. "Hellraiser" is like a bitter medicine that you drink little by little. These more graphic scenes are presented in cautious doses throughout the narrative. The first act practically makes the spectator feel the suffering of others. However, the camera and good direction by David Bruckner prevent the viewer from seeing the denatured bloodletting. But the bitterness, the torture in its essence is in that moment. Even in the characters' screams - at least some of them - it is possible to feel that they came from the core of their actors. In fact, the sound design and soundtrack are ecstasy, and in a good way, for anyone interested in horror films. Carrying some traditional arrangements from the 1987 classic, Ben Lovett manages to go a little further, bringing precise moments of silence that terrify with the heavier chords when the Cenobites appear. This mix makes Hellraiser stand out as an interesting horror film, which, given a good budget, knew how to use practical effects and a good soundtrack.

    Finishing the good part before we start to suffer, the CGI visual effects are also competent, but are left behind with the exquisite graphic prominence of all the clothes and makeup used. Furthermore, the direction is cohesive in focusing on creating a horror that manages to mix grotesque scenes - of which there are several, especially from the second act onwards - with suspicion. After all, Hellraiser is not, and has never been, a slasher series. So, the unbridled race doesn't make sense. The great lighting, with lightning and thunder during the storm, does not inhibit vision, but always makes the environment more terrifying. And best of all, all the scares present are well put together, without the unbearable continuous use of jump scares. Let's talk, we are tired of seeing questionable films. And the Lemarchand Configuration here is not simply a box or a Rubik's Cube, with small movements in its structure. At each stage of the Configuration it reaches different formations, with ends and connections, like a game on several levels. Voight was looking for the final stage, contact with even more powerful entities, something beyond his material achievements, satisfaction surpassing limits. And, like the original conception, it is seductive, an alluring and menacing enigma.

    However, some aspects are grossly left aside. On one side, the viewer saw that they talked about the Cenobites and how impactful they are. But nothing was said about the human characters who here simply serve as cattle ready for slaughter. With the exception of Odessa A'Zion, who plays the ex or still drugged Riley, the characters are as shallow as a roadside hotel bathtub. They only serve to make the story follow its script in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, and their deaths are shocking, but not because of the impact of empathy, but because they are graphic. So, it's possible to say that where Hellraiser languishes the most is in its history. Even though behind the entire Configuration of Lament there is a man who seeks his redemption after being presented by the Cenobites, everything is very simple and banal. Even the modus operandi of searching for people's souls is forced with moves that no one would make - speaking this way to avoid spoilers. So, with a concept like this, the viewer becomes more attached to the moments in which Pinhead and his entourage appear on the screen. And there are not a few of them. Practically stealing the film instead of supporting the protagonist and her group. Almost two hours long. More than enough time to tell a great story. However, as the characters are not introduced correctly, there are moments that drag on and are completely unnecessary. Making the film have some peaks and valleys in terms of narrative.

    Many elements make the story denser and more grounded than in the 1987 production, but the focus here is on establishing a potential new franchise, so don't expect to dive in head first hoping to understand everything. It is clear that "Hellraiser" aims for future sequels, and because of this there is an appeal with audiences outside the niche fanbase by resorting to horror genre clichés that, for example, flirt with slasher, which doesn't really fit with the type of horror created by Clive Barker, but which at least works during some moments of the film, which maintains brutality and torture as the highlights. This is a reboot that should be praised for its great production, but without the same impact as the original.