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Though it doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor, “Hellraiser” is a very worthy entry in the franchise that should satiate most fans.

By now, it’s undeniable that some horror titles are simply iconic – masterpieces that helped define the genre and make it all that it eventually became. Clive Barker’s 1987 film Hellraiser is, without a doubt, one of those masterpieces. And as is the case with films that are iconic, news of reboots and revamps is often met with skepticism.

The 2022 version of Hellraiser is brought to modern audiences by David Bruckner, who definitely knows his way around a lush-looking horror film. (He’s known for such modern classics as V/H/S, The Ritual, and The Night House.) But filling Clive Barker’s shoes would be a tall order for anyone. That’s one reason it’s a good thing 2022’s Hellraiser is really more of a full-scale reimagining (or even a tribute) than an earnest attempt to duplicate the original or any of its many sequels.

This time, the plot centers on Riley (Odessa A’zion), a young recovering drug addict, and her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn). When Riley and her boyfriend Trevor (Drew Starkey) break into a safe in hopes of a quick and hefty score, they encounter a creepy item any Hellraiser fan would be familiar with. It’s the Lament Configuration puzzle box capable of summoning the infamous Cenobites from their hellish home realm.

But when Riley returns home late from her outing with Trevor, Matt accuses her of using again right before kicking her out of the house he also shares with his boyfriend Colin (Adam Faison) and roommate Nora (Aoife Hinds). Riley retreats to a local playground and plays idly with the puzzle box (which she still has) while planning her next move.

That’s when she sees her first glimpse of one of the Cenobites the box summons, but it’s only when Matt cuts himself on the box after coming to find Riley that things start to get real. Matt promptly disappears, abducted by the Cenobites.

Riley’s determination to find her brother and bring him back to the land of the living propels the rest of the plot forward through new, familiar, and sometimes nightmarish territory.

Bruckner definitely understands what most Hellraiser fans are coming to the party for – the Cenobites themselves and the creepy little glimpses into their dark, mysterious world.


Here, they’re an interesting mix of familiar and fresh.

Their iconic latex garb is nowhere to be found, but lots of attention is paid to their hellishly complex body modifications. Jamie Clayton plays a more androgynous version of the iconic Pinhead, a fresh twist on a classic character.

The general tone of this incarnation of Hellraiser is also pretty on target – brooding, dark, foreboding, and dreamlike.

Fans are treated to additional glimpses into how the Lament Configuration works when really put through its paces, as well as other ways the Cenobites might leave their mark on someone they encounter. (The “reward” granted to Goran Visnjic’s Roland Voight character is a great example.)

However, the character development elsewhere in the film leaves a bit to be desired. Riley, Trevor, Matt, and company aren’t terribly deep or memorable. And although Hellraiser is definitely a sight to see, it really never extends itself into truly horrifying territory the way Clive Barker’s original did so well way back in 1987.

HELLRAISER (2022) brings a lot to the table and is a worthy addition to such an iconic franchise. Diehard fans will like a lot about the execution, and there’s enough here to satisfy body horror fans, if not actually scare them.

In other words, Bruckner and company deliver as expected but don’t do much beyond that.

Check it out because it’s very watchable. But there’s no need to worry about surpassing the original’s legacy. Clive Barker still wears the crown (and rightly so).

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 4

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