I can confidently say that Hellraiser is my favorite series among horror classics. Hellraiser was the definition of the word “original” in the 80s when never dying monsters swarmed their victims every prequel. The hideous creatures in BDSM outfits presented to the audience and the peaks of pleasure they sought through pain were chilling as an idea. A classic murderer-victim relationship was also not described in the movie. Instead, we watched the struggle of a man who cheated death, a crazy woman who cheated on her husband, and her daughter, who was caught in the middle with the freaks coming from the unknown. It was important that the film, founded on philosophy in its own way, was adopted by someone who would understand this philosophy. We see that David Bruckner and his team have understood Hellraiser.

Let’s briefly touch on the subject… A man named Voight sacrifices people to the Lament cube to invite Cenobites, who will come behind the door. His goal is to get the reward he wants after offering enough. But things don’t go as planned. And the cube reaches Riley years later through Trevor. Succumbing to her curiosity, Riley unwittingly opens the door between two worlds as she unravels the cube. Freeing the Cenobites, Riley is forced to sacrifice to them. Because if she doesn’t, she’ll be the victim herself.

The biggest problem of all horror adaptations made in recent years is that they completely change their essence while trying to add innovation. Sometimes these changes are made on purpose, and cheap movies come out that play entirely to the audience. Halloween, Scream, Jeepers Creepers, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, released recently, have completely lost their essence and turned into blood bath shows designed only to kill. I had a similar fear for Hellraiser because my heart ached when I watched the last 2 adaptations. Let alone understanding the essence, it was clear from every second that they were an amateur production. Even an amateur can be a compliment sometimes. But David Bruckner’s Hellraiser gave me a deep sigh.

Finally, we watched a horror that understood the essence of its predecessor, which managed to add innovations in a way that did not get in the way of the theme. Yep, this Hellraiser is definitely not like the original, either. Is it perfect? Of course not. But the result is satisfactory. Because basically, there is no concern about playing to the audience. It does not have cheap amateur craftsmanship like the adaptations made in the 2000s. It is a very successful film that manages to tell what it promises without being confused and reinforces its philosophy with minor innovations.

Hulu’s new adaptation has 3 striking changes. The first is that they make Cenobites predominantly female. There is no problem because Pinhead is a woman in the original story. I have to say that I like the design of the new Cenobite leader, named Pinhead or The Priest, in the cast list. All the Cenobites in the movie are designed to keep the spirit of the 80s alive, and best of all, their make-up is salient. In this regard, it is evident that the film wants to keep the predecessor’s spirit alive. Aside from the wet realism of each of the Cenobites, the scene where Voight’s wounds healed was simply stunning. The effort they put into this part, the extra shots, brought Hellraiser’s first movie back to life. Even this part alone indicates that they understand the essence.

The second striking change is the Cenobites’ perspective on their victims. Usually, characters were depicted seeking the promised pleasures and believing they would find them through Cenobites. However, the Hulu version specifically wanted to indicate who the pleasure belongs to. Yes, pleasure seekers made a big mistake in the original movies, but The Priest or Pinhead openly says satisfaction is theirs. All the victims chosen by Lament become victims of the Cenobites’ perverse and savage pleasures. And they obviously enjoy it.

The third striking change is that they have added configurations to the Lament cube. In the original, those who managed to solve the puzzle opened the door to Leviathan’s world and invited the Cenobites inside. But this time, Lament needs to be fed blood for it to work. When the Lament, whose shape changes as it feeds on blood, reaches its final position, Leviathan grants you a “pseudo” wish. However, the movie also makes a nice twist in this part and shows through Voight that any wish from these beings will not be given in good faith. This part did remind me a bit of Wishmaster.

To sum it up… David Bruckner’s Hellraiser is a very successful film that, like many other horror adaptations, does not reduce the subject to “death of the adolescents,” understands its philosophy and essence, and even makes sufficient additions. The plastic make-ups and chained pleasure moments of the movie, in which we are fed up with the Cenobites, are absolutely wonderfully designed. The fact that the Cenobites take their victims regardless of location and that Nora suddenly finds herself in the other world while in the car is perhaps the best update to add. Yes, it’s definitely not a perfect movie. Although it contains the idiocy made by young people from time to time, there is good workmanship, especially in the dialogue parts of the movie. At the very least, it’s a pity that other films haven’t done something so simple, Hulu’s Hellraiser has managed to keep Cenobites’ open wounds wet, and this simple touch maintains realism. That alone was enough to get a passing vote from me.

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Valerii Ege Deshevykh
Ukrainian Creative Director | Motion Picture Writer | Horror Freak

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