The Reel Review
A struggling drug addict exposes herself and those around her to a sadistic, supernatural dimension after she accidentally activates a mysterious puzzlebox summoning the pain-loving, mutilated humanoids – Cenobites – who kidnap her brother, in this remake of Clive Barker’s 1987 horror classic.
After a whopping seven lackluster Hellraiser sequels over the past 34 years, it is director Jerry Bruckner (The Night House, The Ritual) who finally gets it right, with a visually dazzling, trippy, back-to-basics horror designed to delight long-suffering fans of the gore-splattered franchise.
Showcasing an array of gruesome, flesh-piercing and flaying horror, this symbolic film about the eventual pain of drug addiction is not for the squeamish. Odessa A’zion is the addict trying to rescue her brother, with Goran Višnjic (E.R.) as the billionaire occultist battling her and her friends at his mansion in the Berkshires.
Bringing back the same score and fascinating puzzlebox as the original, Hellraiser also again explores the blurring of pleasure and pain – via drug addiction, the occult and BDSM. While it doesn’t address the topic quite as well as does the 1987 film, this more sanitized Hellraiser still has enough thrills to be a visually entertaining and thought-provoking remake in its own right. “We have such sights to show you.” Indeed.
• Trans woman Jamie Clayton (Sense8, Hung) is the Hellraiser franchise’s first female Pinhead.
• Hellraiser was filmed in Belgrade, Serbia in 2021, where a brief quarantine and pause in production took place due to the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
• Drag performer Gottmik auditioned for the role of Pinhead, even showing off a Pinhead-inspired look in the Season 13 finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
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