It’s the spooky season! You know what that means! The first hints of seasonal affective disorder are just around the corner! So while that starts to sand down the edges of your enjoyment of life, you might as well watch some HORROR MOVIES!
I’m an absolute sucker. For this reason, the new David Bruckner-helmed reboot of Hellraiser was probably my most anticipated horror film of the whole Spooky Season. I love the first couple of Hellraiser movies! David Bruckner is an actual person making movies worth seeing! The Night House was good! The Ritual was good! For the first time in, like, 30 years, the Hellraiser series was going to get some reasonably competent treatment.
I was stoked!
And then I was disappointed!
I suppose, putting things into perspective, this is actually one of the best Hellraiser movies. If I had to rank the films in the Hellraiser series, I simply wouldn’t! Because there are like 10 of them and I remember 80% of them being almost unwatchable! But if I’m being honest, after the first two Hellraiser movies (which I think are both amazing) and the third Hellraiser movie (which I remember being hilarious), Hellraiser 2022 is probably the next best Hellraiser movie.
Much of the new film actually works really well. The production design is sharp and fresh, putting a modern spin on the elegant creepiness of the original vision. A lot of the acting is solid and the lead actor in particular really works in her role. There’s some new freakin’ cenobites and they look pretty dang neat! For the first half of the film (perhaps longer), I was cautiously enjoying myself and trying to roll with the obvious twists that the film was setting up and the loosey-goosey dumbing down of the Hellraiser lore that the film was employing (probably in large part to make the most of a condensed running time and overall scope).
It fell apart for me by the end. Some of the most fascinating elements of the first two Hellraiser films are underemphasized or entirely absent here. Themes of desire and purpose, themes of pleasure and pain, the pursuit of the boundaries of experience no matter the cost… all of these things kind of take a backseat here to what winds up being a weird game of stab-tag with a puzzle box. The new spin on the Hellraiser lore winds up presenting the cenobites as a bunch of super-convoluted pack of Wishmaster genies, getting their bellies filled up by a bunch of collateral damage dumdums along the way. And yeah, there were collateral damage dumdums in the first couple of movies, but the OG Pinhead crew seemed to have more discerning tastes than the new batch do.
On the subject of new Pinhead, I don’t think that the online teeth-gnashing about new Pinhead has been based on a good faith reading of the portrayal. New Pinhead looks and sounds great, and the cenobites in general are the least of this movie’s problems. Instead, let’s talk about the hilarious “I found a notebook” exposition dump about three quarters of the way through this flick that explains the dumb new rules.
How about complain about that instead of the actually pretty cool new Pinhead?
Anyway, my expectations were too high for this going into it. I was disappointed. But it is overall fine. Some cool kills. Looks great. Some creepy parts. Very dumb final act.
Probably grade it a…