Jamie Clayton’s Pinhead brings a touch of androgyny to a brand new replace of the cult horror basic that in any other case performs it very straight.
It’s not going that any assessment, optimistic or destructive, will impact the reception of the most recent “Hellraiser,” now the eleventh addition to the cult horror franchise. As soon as sure properties attain cult standing, its followers will enjoyment of any providing, even when solely to fuss over its rating within the canon. Primarily based off of Clive Barker’s 1986 novella and initially tailored by Barker in one of many nice writer-to-filmmaker transformations, “Hellraiser” belongs to the freaks, punks, and fetishists who noticed themselves within the S&M-inspired appears and story of unhinged sexual exploration.
Sadly, the entire kinky perversion has been scrubbed clear from the brand new model, with solely a pleasant homosexual couple left as a replacement. It’s Disney does “Hellraiser,” which — by the way — is precisely who paid for this newest iteration the basic.
Shedding the subtitles like a cenobite’s pores and skin, “Hellraiser” is a 2022 rebirth for the franchise, freed from all of the attractive subversion that received it right here within the first place. It’s completely entertaining, utilizing Barker’s creative tropes to inform a solidly gory nightmare, but it surely’s a pale vanilla shadow of the unique. Capably directed by David Bruckner and written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, “Hellraiser” feels prefer it got here from a group of straight horror guys who know what they’re doing, however nonetheless fully missed the purpose. Both that, or they had been stymied by the Hulu (AKA Disney) of all of it.
Taken by itself deserves, “Hellraiser” is the story of a defiant younger girl battling dependancy. It’s extra feminist than the rest, with the darkly magnetic Riley main her principally male compatriots in the direction of their twisted demise. In a powerful present of charisma, Riley is performed by up-and-comer Odessa A’zion, whose scrappy attract makes her a breath of recent air from the same old Hollywood aesthetic. We meet Riley in flagrante, which ends abruptly with an impulsive “I like you” muttered from behind her, inflicting Riley to cease mid-act and calmly punch the man. It simply occurred, explains Trevor (Drew Starkey) as he throws his garments on and leaves in a clumsy flutter.
Backing up a bit, the movie opens with an “Eyes Large Shut”-style intercourse social gathering at a mansion fortress in — you couldn’t have guessed it — the Berkshires. A large-eyed younger man (Package Clarke) is lured by Sabrina (in a enjoyable half for Palestinian actress Haim Abbass) to the internal sanctum of eccentric businessman Roland Voight (“ER” cutie Goran Višnjić). Although it’s arrange as a creepy seduction, the enjoyable doesn’t final lengthy. Voight rapidly unleashes the mysterious historical puzzle field on his younger prey, which cuts his hand and sends chains out from each course to maim him. The ceiling opens and Voight accepts his destiny with maniacal glee.
Eighteen months later, Riley and Trevor break right into a secure the place they uncover the field. Hoping for a fast rating, they agree it should be value one thing and take the creepy merchandise. When Riley’s brother Matt (Brandon Flynn) suspects her of utilizing medicine once more, he kicks her out of the home the place she’d been staying together with his boyfriend Colin (Adam Faison) and roommate Nora (Aoife Hinds). Dizzying herself in a neighborhood playground, she sees her first imaginative and prescient of the evil she has unknowingly unleashed, a ghostly corpse awaiting its destiny. When Matt comes to seek out her, he cuts himself on the puzzle field. Alone in a dingy public toilet, the partitions shift earlier than him and Matt turns into the primary sufferer to vanish into the cenobites’ wild underworld.
Riley’s willpower to save lots of her brother motivates every part that follows, first main her to Sabrina, holed up in a hospital tied to an oxygen tank. Regardless of her warnings to cease the insanity earlier than it destroys every part she loves, Sabrina turns into the subsequent sufferer. It’s right here we get a greater glimpse of this newest verison of the cenobites, now tripped of their iconic leathers and latex. This iteration of the cenobites appears like alien escapees from the “Our bodies” exhibit, carrying inside out meat fits of muscle and organ. There’s nothing attractive about them, although they need to be sufficiently grotesque for the physique horror aficionados.
There’s not an excessive amount of Jamie Clayton will get to do as their illustrious chief, Pinhead, although her casting is a enjoyable nod to the queer followers. She performs the position as an androgynous omniscient grasp, doling out the orders to Riley with a wry smile and vacant expression. “Our energy lies in dominance,” she explains. “Settle for the ache you may have wrought.”
Riley doesn’t search unearthly pleasures that meld into ache, solely the resurrection of her beloved brother. It’s a straightforward to swallow motivation, but it surely additionally signifies that there’s little deeper which means to the choice she makes on the movie’s finale, past its floor worth. The entire thing wraps up fairly neatly, with nary a boundary pushed. Enjoyable was had, blood was shed, and nobody needed to have a secure phrase.
“Hellraiser” begins streaming on Hulu on Friday, October 7.
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