Monday 31 October 2022


It’s Halloween when the spooky season reaches its zenith. Growing up in the eighties, it was synonymous with trick-or-treating, Ghostbusters, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, teenage parties and horror movie marathons.

Hulu follows the Predator franchise-reviving Prey with a straight-to-streaming Hellraiser reboot for the selfie generation.

Nick Smith, our resident US-based horror expert, unlocks the puzzle box to discover what grotesque treats Hulu’s Hellraiser has in store for Huluween.

Guest post by Nick Smith

At the depths of its leather-bound heart, Hellraiser is for the scare junkies, the goths, the Rihannas and rule-breakers, marginalised hedonists and monster kids. The series works best when kinkily wrapped with whips and chains, oozing with dirty deeds and viscous visions.

The original Hellraiser was far from perfect, with a few bizarre transatlantic accents and medium-budget monsters. But it was a gory gateway to the mind of fantasy author Clive Barker, whose twisted sensibilities were perfect for the thrill-seeking ‘80s.

For decades, New World Pictures, Lionsgate, Miramax Films and others have been puzzling over how to take a story of sadistic demon Cenobites and make it palatable for teen horror audiences.

Now Hulu (a streaming service majority-owned by Disney) is having a crack at the franchise, with the eleventh variation on Barker’s concept, a new Pinhead (Jamie Clayton) and a higher budget than recent entries (2018’s Judgment was made for a paltry $350,000).

Disregarding its bloody baggage, the 2022 Hellraiser is a solid film with excellent cinematography and exquisite special effects makeup. The acting is credible, with Odessa A’zion portraying hell-raising addict Riley and ER’s Goran Visnjic playing Voight, a wealthy man with a big old mansion who has experienced all the earthly pleasures he can find and still wants more.

Another central character in this film is the Hellraiser puzzle box itself, an ever-morphing prop that affects the lives of all the characters. Using that cheeky little box, co-writer/co-producer David S. Goyer (Dark City) and his team deliver a cross between a Ring/Death Note story (anyone stabbed by the puzzle box could be dragged away by the Cenobites) and a young-people-trapped-in-an-old-dark-house movie.

However, there’s more to the tale than tropes; the film explores addiction, responsibility, and the positive and negative aspects of suffering. While the protagonists are under-developed with a hair’s breadth of a backstory, they’re more than mere soul fodder for Pinhead, thanks to the acting and the second act has several tense and nightmarish moments.

Like Revelations and Judgment, this Hellraiser suffers from the lack of original Pinhead Doug Bradley, although I can’t fault the franchise for trying something new; Clayton deserves another outing. After all, poor Pinhead only gets the chance to torture one character in this instalment.

If Hulu was hoping for a renewed interest in Hellraiser as with the recent Halloween trilogy, or a must-watch, fan-approved movie like Prey, it will be disappointed. However, the film is a step in the right direction back to Barker’s original world.

Have you seen Hulu's Hellraiser? How does it compare with the original? Let me know in the comments below.

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