Rather astonishingly, there are now eleven Hellraiser movies. However, much like any horror franchise that’s been slicing innocent victims up since the ’80s, it’s well overdue for some fresh blood. The Hellraiser 2022 reboot is now streaming on Hulu, and it turns out there’s life in the ol’ puzzle box yet.
We have such sights to show you
The new Hellraiser kicks off with a deal for a mysterious puzzle box (that will be familiar to fans of the series) that ends up in the hands of rich collector Roland Voight (Goran Višnjić). After tricking a young man into opening it and watching the terrible consequences, the movie cuts to six years later and focuses on a girl named Riley (Odessa A’zion). She’s a bit messed up in multiple ways, and her boyfriend Trevor (Drew Starkey) persuades her to rob a warehouse — where she discovers the puzzle box and bad things start to happen.
If you’ve never seen a Hellraiser movie before, don’t worry, the movie explains as much as it needs to. Likewise, if you’re very familiar with the horror movie series, the reboot manages to retread the original’s ground while cleverly offering a new take. It’s a fine line but director David Bruckner — with assistance from series creator Clive Barker — walks it well. Hellraiser 2022 is as good as reboots can get.
Much like Micah in Paranormal Activity, the audience isn’t supposed to like Riley all that much. She has addiction issues with drink, drugs, and sex, continually relapses with each, and keeps on pushing away the people trying to help her. After the mysterious puzzle box causes people to disappear, she’s forced to investigate it. The story is fairly straightforward, and that serves it well, but there are enough twists to keep things interesting — even if some of the characters don’t get quite enough development, such as the random friend Nora, who seems to exist entirely to become Cenobite bait.
Speaking of Cenobites, the hellish creatures are back and they’ve never looked or acted more disturbing. Hellraiser 2022 gets them just right, and none more so than their iconic leader Pinhead. Jamie Clayton replaces Doug Bradley, who played the role since the original 1987 movie. Clayton’s ‘The Priest’ is more androgynous but equally terrifying and hypnotic.
The Cenobites are deeply unnerving but many of the shots and direction add just as much to the horror. Watching the creatures appear out of the dark is cool enough, but seeing rooms, bathroom stalls, and even the back of vehicles open up into impossible corridors like the puzzle box itself is creepy as hell. It would’ve been nice to see more of their dimension, but the reboot gets suitably epic as it races toward a conclusion. Oh yes, and expect things to get a little gory too, although the movie also knows when suggestion is better than showing.
Hellraiser 2022 review: Greater delights await
The eleventh Hellraiser movie is that rarest of things: a reboot that’s possibly as good as the original. It at least understands why the series is so creepy, how to make the puzzle box conceit work, and why the Cenobites are so terrifying — things all the sequels after Hellraiser 2 failed at. While it could do with a little more character development, Hellraiser fans and complete newcomers alike should get an equal level of enjoyment — and nightmares — from this movie. The ball’s in your court, Halloween Ends.
Hellraiser (2022) is streaming now, exclusively on Hulu in the US.