Hellraiser is a violent and atmospheric revival of the franchise, but ultimately holds back where it could have let loose
It’s not a reimagining of the franchise as much as it is a revival. The original Hellraiser (1987) is dirty, gritty movie, with great practical gore FX, an introduction to some creepy hellish villains, and it’s a bit campy with an underlying sense of humor. What the story itself lacks, is made up for in a greatness of ideas and imagery. The second one Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, (1988) is arguably the better movie. Thereafter, the movies are all downhill. They have entertainment value, but they are mostly sequels chasing after money as opposed to solid horror movie making.
As for as Hellraiser canon goes, this movie could be whatever it wants to be. A remake, a reimagining, a direct sequel. In this world, the iconic Cenobites could be anyone, anywhere, at anytime, so essentially, if none of the other characters are recurrent, it doesn’t matter what the story is, really.
This new addition to the franchise captures the spirit and atmosphere of the original go around and Jamie Clayton is wonderfully creepy as The Priest, better known as Pinhead. The character design of the Cenobites is fantastic and thoroughly creepy.
Additionally, the movie is wonderfully shot and the gore effects are great, although there is a lot of missed opportunity. This movie had a chance to be over-the-top horrific, but it holds back whenever it had the chance to make an image.
It’s a horror movie for the 2020s, where it tries a little too hard to have a broad appeal instead of just making a gorrific flick.
The story is functional, serving as tool to get us to the Cenobites and the moments of violent intensity.
The original movie had an element of terror that lingered, where most of this movie is already forgotten a day later.
Ultimately, this is a good movie with some great things about it, especially the potential for another ten sequels.
Gordon’s Grade: B