Does this reboot of a horror classic from David Bruckner have what the original promised…..”such sights to show you?”
Another month and another remake of a horror classic, loved by many, but not quite to the extent of the masses that adore the likes of Michael, Jason and Freddy.
The iconic image of Doug Bradley as Pinhead with as his name suggests, pins all over his head, may be cemented in the minds of horror lovers everywhere, but the franchise has never quite reached the feverish levels to what a new trip to Haddonfield, Elm St and Camp Crystal manages to stir, for reasons most likely as Hellraiser has always dared to be different to the other “bogeymen films”.
The original is a horror film that makes the viewer feel dirty, Its about the power of sex, with humans just as grotesque as anything Michael Myers can deliver on his annual Trick or Treat visit to Haddonfield. Clive Barker’s Hellraiser 1987 was released at the perfect time, a gruesome ride that felt cheap and tacky and yet frighteningly good. A poster that sold it like it was a new slasher to arrive on a bloated market- but it weren’t- instead we had an adult tale of body horror that offered the viewer an unpleasant time.
Not even 10 sequels, including one in space can ever dilute the power of the very first time the Lament Configuration was opened and while fans lambast many of the films that followed – I am one of those horror fans who can see some good in every entry and will always admit with utter pride that I am a huge fan of Scott Derrickson’s fifth addition INFERNO, a sequel that will always in my eyes be one of the most underappreciated trips to the dark depth of despair in cinema.
Which brings us to HELLRAISER 2022, a re-boot that has been planned for many of years but finally settling into the hands of David Bruckner, a director who has already wooed the genre with offerings like The Ritual (very good) and The Night House (overhyped?). Bruckner to his credit tries his best to bring back the world of the cenobites for a new generation and while many parts of his tale works, there are some parts that clearly don’t, which may annoy a small section of the die-hard franchise fans who just cherish the days when Bradley was holding that puzzle box.
That’s not a criticism of Jamie Clayton who gleefully takes over the role of PINHEAD and makes it her own, managing to achieve something that Jackie Earle Harley failed miserably in the Elm St redo, in that you do not once miss the well established face of the bogeyman and immediately accept that there is a new guy or in this case woman in town! Clayton’s stone-faced assured, soft spoken offering will no doubt give birth to a new icon that fans will love and her performance alone should have fans start to whisper ant the obligatory “sequel talk” will start to gather pace.
Plot-wise, its simple. We get the standard “first kill” opening to introduce the new viewers to this world, before we settle on Riley (Odessa A’zion) who we first meet having sex with her boyfriend Trevor (Drew Starkey)- its a HELLRAISER film no final girl is a virgin in this tale – a young woman recovering from drugs and rehab who along with her boyfriend break into a storage unit owned by a missing billionaire and stumble on a strange looking puzzle box that Riley starts to play with. Sound familiar?
One argument to many with her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn) ends with Riley being thrown out of the flat, in which in despair she accidently summons the familiar looking Cenobites led by Clayton’s new look head honcho (and yes the new design is wonderful) and soon Matt himself is plunged into this dark world and a new tale of terror begins.
The simple pleasure of the original is missing here, with HELLRAISER 2022 looking far to glossy and shiny to ever be scary and the two hour running time makes it feel a tiny bit bloated with the first hour setting up this world, before the second half finally rips the chains off and starts to have a little bit of fun, even if the film is nowhere near the gruesome imagery of its original.
Yes, it does fall into a cliché slasher set-piece for a while, something the old films mostly notably the original two never dared to do and while we do see flesh ripped, it never makes you feel like you are having a downright nasty nightmare, something that the 2015 Hellraiser inspired horror flick BASKIN managed to achieve to such wonderful affect.
But in an age where the genre is either fixated on legacy or dread, its nice to see an old fashioned attempt of blood and spills and while there is a whiff of 90’s horror to the proceedings, for someone who has probably watched the poorer sequels more times than he should have, how can I criticize a general attempt to bring this mythology back into a new era.
It may be too slick for its own good to actually “tear your soul apart”, but Bruckner has created an entry that is more than a worthy addition, a rare re-boot that doesn’t insult the film it inspires to be and while Clive Barker’s vision still remains the one and only puzzle you’ll want to open again and again, lets just hope we see Clayton and her new shiny pins in the near future as Hellraiser 2022 does more than enough to warrant a further trip into this pit of darkness….