It’s October, so you know what that means. Cold toilet seats. But also, the start of Horror Month!
I know Rob Zombie’s The Munsters technically kicked off Horror Month, but I reviewed it before October so I’m just going to call this the first official review for Horror Month, even though we both know it isn’t.
Plus, this is way better than that movie anyways.
I guess you could say I’m a fan of the Hellraiser franchise, I’ve seen every single movie, even the really bad straight to video ones. Which they made; I want to say 6 of. They all kept getting worse and worse. The last one, Hellraiser Judgment I think fans seemed to enjoy, but I couldn’t stand it.
My favorite in the long running series is still Hellraiser 2. As much as I enjoyed the new remake of Hellraiser, I still didn’t enjoy it as much as the theatrical run of the films, being 1-4.
Yes, I’m one of the very few who not only saw Hellraiser Bloodlines in theaters but also enjoyed it. Directed by my favorite director Allen Smithee.
As for this new Hulu remake, what I can say is it’s competently made, as the writing wasn’t hacky, the film had some real style to it and a creative vision that seemed different, setting itself apart from the other films but also trying to deliver something familiar.
However, something still felt off to me while watching it. It had this clean feel. It’s kind of hard to explain. If you watch the original movie or even some of the other sequels before they went straight to your local Blockbuster, they all had this sleazy feel to them. Like this grime that you only get when Clive Barker is directly involved. And this remake didn’t have that, it felt like any other modern film these days like that Nightmare on Elm Street remake. Too clean. Too digital.
Or it could be that I just miss Doug Bradley. Pinhead is one of those iconic characters that everyone knows. You don’t even have to of seen any Hellraiser films to know which horror franchise Pinhead belongs to. His look, his presence. He was and is and will always be Pinhead.
It’s like trying to recast The Tall Man for Phantasm. No one can replace Angus Scrimm. And anyone they try to replace him with will only be subpar at best.
Not that Jamie Clayton didn’t do a fine job, it just wasn’t the same. Which might be why the character is called The Priest and not Pinhead.
I didn’t really find her intimidating or scary. Instead of black leather, the Cenobites wear metal pins and draped flesh, their flesh fashioned into what one might perceive as clothes. And the pins, they’re like those pearl pins you’d find on grandma dresses.
As much as I enjoy the films, I’ve never read the book it’s based on by Clive Barker. In it, Pinhead apparently is genderless as I think all the Cenobites are. At least that’s what people say whenever someone brings up Pinhead is now a lady. Maybe a little bit of irony there in casting Jamie Clayton for the role as she’s transgender.
I remember her from Sense8, as Naomi, the hacker of the cluster. She also I think was rumored to be dating Keanu Reeves for a while. But after the series ended, the only thing I can remember seeing her in is The Snowman that film with Michael Fassbender. She wasn’t playing a hacker again, was she? The movie was so forgettable.
Anyway, as I was saying, it might seem like another trend these days of gender swapping another iconic character, but at least this time there are some grounds for it. Maybe.
I was slightly confused at first as I heard this remake was still connected to the original film, but after watching it, no it has nothing to do with it other than the Lemarchand’s puzzle box. But even that is different.
Since they kept saying it was connected to the other films, I was wondering how’d they explain the new female Pinhead since I think in one of the sequels, I can’t remember which one, it was revealed that Pinhead was a WW2 fighter pilot.
But this has nothing to do with the other films, like I mentioned, so they’re free to do whatever they like.
Some have complained about how dark the film looks, which was never that much of an issue for me, it was dark but not unseeably dark, I could always tell what was happening.
My issues however came with understanding what the hell people were saying. The issue became even more annoying whenever the Cenobites talked, especially Pinhead. Everyone kind of talked in a whisper.
Huh? What? Speak up, lady, I can’t understand what you’re saying. Pleasures? Flesh? What now? I give up, just hang the dude with your chain hooks already.
To get into the story, we start off with the puzzle box, but it is in a different configuration than the one we are used to seeing called the Lament Configuration.
In Hellbound, the sequel to the first Hellraiser film they revealed that there were several of these puzzle boxes made. It has been a pretty long time, so my memory of them are more than hazy.
In this remake, we are given one single box, however once a configuration is solved, it transforms into another shape. This I believe is new, but I could be wrong obviously.
What I do think is new was adding a hidden blade in the box that springs out after each configuration is solved. The idea being that the blood is what activates the box, calling on the Cenobites.
I don’t remember the names of every configuration, just the final one being Leviathan.
Billionaire Roland Voight is obsessed with the puzzle box, knowing that once all the configurations are solved, a prize awaits him.
But to cheat the process, since you most likely die after each puzzle is solved, he uses lackeys to do it for him. In this particular instance, he uses a male prostitute that has arrived at his mansion’s party.
He solves the last configuration, getting taken to hell, leaving Roland Voight free to claim his reward.
We don’t see what happens after that, but eventually we do. Let’s just say getting rewards from hell doesn’t seem that enticing.
Our main character is Riley who is a recovering drug addict living with her brother Matt and his boyfriend Colin.
Riley has a boyfriend as well, Trevor who convinces Riley to break into this storage unit where a treasure awaits. The treasure is the puzzle box, but in the configuration, we are all used to.
Kind of disappointed by their prize, Trevor lets Riley hold on to it for him while he figures out how to sell the damn thing. But when Riley comes home drunk, her brother Matt kicks her out.
Now with nowhere to go, she pops a few pills and feels around on the puzzle box, managing to figure it out and also escaping getting cut by it.
Dodging the blade comes with a cost, as it reaches out to Matt, getting him to cut himself in her stead.
And of course, that’s when he is brought to hell to be tortured.
With her brother now missing, Riley does what she can to figure out what is going on and who owned this puzzle box before her, tracking it to Roland Voight and his giant mansion that he has fashioned into a giant puzzle box as well.
Riley is shown a vision that if she is able to solve all the boxes, one of the prizes is resurrection, the ability to bring her brother back from hell.
To open these boxes, someone must be sacrificed.
Trevor and her friends show up at the mansion, trying to understand what is going on. Her friend Nora gets attacked while investigating a secret passage in the mansion, having the blade of the newest puzzle box stab her in the back.
Riley and the others try to get Nora away to safety as the Cenobites come for her, but there is no escaping as reality bends to fits its needs, taking her to see Pinhead and her fellow Cenobites friends.
We do get to see some other familiar Cenobites in the Chatterer. My favorite I think was from Hellraiser 3 with the guy who has CD’s in his head. 3 was so dumb, but I love it anyways.
After Nora is stripped of her flesh, Riley learns that she can stab Cenobites with the puzzle box, sacrificing them instead.
All that seems to be working, trapping one to send back to hell, but Roland Voight shows up and throws a wrench in their plan.
Roland Voight chose pleasure as his reward, giving him this fancy new chest piece that constantly plays with his nerves, leaving him in constant pain.
He set this whole thing up with Trevor so Riley would use the box, starting the process all over again so he can get them to undo his prize, getting a new one.
This time he chooses power. You guessed it, power mostly just means turning you into a Cenobite, which is what he gets.
Knowing that Riley could ask for resurrection from Leviathan, but after seeing the “gifts” it offers, she decides to do nothing.
The film is about 2 hours long, which seemed a bit too long for a film like this. In this review I did skip a few things like Riley and Trevor traveling to see Roland Voight’s assistant.
It’s mostly a scene to get the box to another configuration.
I felt myself losing interest once the film starts taking place purely at Roland Voight’s mansion.
The gore was nice, not skimping on the thing these films are most known for. But the plot was lacking, not delivering a ton of depth or anything too enticing to keep you interested.
You could say the same thing about the characters as well, since I really didn’t care who died next. We don’t really care if our lead Riley gets her brother back or not. They don’t even dive too deeply into the Hellraiser mythos.
The thin plot, the slightly unlikable characters, I’d say this is a RENT.
It’s better than any of the other straight to video sequels by far, but it failed to keep my interest for very long.
Next up on Horror Month, it’s time to see if evil finally dies with Halloween Ends!
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