review by Bobby Blakey
In 1987 writer director Clive Barker brought Hellraiser to the big screen based off his novella The Hellbound Heart. Since then the franchise has spawned 9 sequels with all but 2 of them starring fan favorite Doug Bradley in the role of Pinhead. Now a new film rebooting the franchise is here this time with Jamie Clayton taking on the role as the first female version of the character. Will this latest take on the iconic horror franchise bring the pain fans hope for or will it be a puzzle not worth solving?
Hellraiser follows a young woman must confront the sadistic, supernatural forces behind an enigmatic puzzlebox responsible for her brother's disappearance. Despite this synopsis being similar to the original the change to a female Pinhead has caused controversy, but only with those unfamiliar with Barker’s original source material. Fans love Bradley as do I, but in The Hellbound Heart the character who is not actually named Pinhead is described as an androgynous being with a feminine voice making this the most potentially accurate version of the character to date.
I love the Hellraiser franchise, but like most have been pretty disappointed with the entries beyond Hellraiser 2. Even still it was always awesome getting to see Doug Bradley do his thing as Pinhead even if the rest of the movie wasn’t good. I was excited of the casting of The L Word’s Jamie Clayton as the new Pinhead as it veers closer to the description of the character in the novella, but she isn’t the first to take over the role and the other two just weren’t good so she had big shoes to fill.
I can honestly say she is so good in the role and the new design is horrifically beautiful. As expected her screen time is brief, but every moment she arrives looks excellent and she kills it. The rest of the cast are fine with Odessa A’zion carrying the majority of the movie. She brings a great emotional punch to the film as she deals with not only the insane horrors that surround her, but her own addictions.
The story is well crafted ad brings both familiar elements from the franchise along with some new twists that actually work to make it stand out for me. Most notably being the use of the puzzle cube. It constantly takes different shapes that play into the bigger story which I thought worked so much better for the varying terrors it opens. Sure there are some of the predictable tropes used in all these films, but I was pretty surprised by how well it worked.
Love them or hate them the real reason for watching any Hellraiser film is not to just see Pinhead, but the other cenobites as well. This time around they have not only recreated some of the originals, but also brought forth new ones. Every one of them is an awesome visual representation of pain and suffering with them looking cleaner than ever. The genius designs using their skins peeling in different ways is both disgusting and beautiful all at once.
Nothing will replaces the original film, but this is easily one of the best entries to the franchise in years. It not only did Barker’s novella and the original film justice it showcased a new Pinhead that actually works to stand on their own and one I am hoping we will see more of. The final scene of the film kind of takes you out of the rest of the journey and won’t work for everyone, but I still kind of dig what they were showcasing and wonder if it is a promise of more to come.
Whether you are a hardcore fan or just joining the pain check out Hellraiser when it streams exclusively October 7th on Hulu.