Hellraiser 2022: Guts, Gore and Classic Horror: Reimagined

Illustration by Madison Cohen

Even if you don’t fancy yourself a horror fanatic, you likely know of all the horror icons. With Halloween just around the corner, Freddy Kreuger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and other classic villains are making their way into the mainstream psyche. With the release of “Hellraiser,” they’re also making their way into the media. If you’re acquainted with the aforementioned horror symbols but haven’t heard of Pinhead, now’s your time to get your horror education.

“Hellraiser” was first released in 1987, directed by Clive Barker. The movie centers around a woman who finds a zombified version of her dead lover and begins to kill to satisfy the Cenobites, gods of the underworld, who promise to revive him. Since the film’s release, “Hellraiser’’ was deemed somewhat of a cult classic, with Pinhead, one of the gods featured in the film, becoming a beloved horror icon. 

Since the original release, “Hellraiser’’ has been adapted over 11 times, and none of the more recent films are very notable. Luckily for horror fans, the 2022 adaptation of the film doesn’t seek to recreate the malicious lore or horror magic of the original 1987 film. Instead, it develops its own story, and revitalizes the sense of dread and pure fear that gives the original movie its heart.

The film follows Riley, played by Odessa A’zion, a recovering addict who lives with her older brother, Matt, and his friends. As Riley struggles to stay clean, she turns to Trevor, her love interest, for a supply of drugs and alcohol. One night, the two find themselves in an abandoned building, where they stumble upon a safe. Believing it may have money in it, they break open the safe, only to discover a small box adorned with gold and silver. That night, when Riley comes home drunk, she and Matt get into a heated argument, leading to Matt asking her to leave the apartment. 

When Matt goes after Riley, he discovers her with the box. He tries to open the box and is stabbed in the hand. Then, he disappears. The movie follows Riley on her search for her brother, as she consults dark forces to get him back.

While the 2022 version definitely won’t land on any “Best of 2022” film lists, the movie is a load of fun. The dialogue is choppy, and a little corny — in true modern horror fashion — but the bloody visuals and sense of hopelessness drive the film. 

For die-hard “Hellraiser’’ fans, it encapsulates the spirit of the original film without trying to directly remake or outdo it. The original sadistic traps are there, along with the iconic Cenobites, and of course, Pinhead. However, the lore is a little bit different, with more talk of the Occult, and an element of mental illness that seems to push characters to call on the Cenobites. Regardless, the reimagined Cenobites are frightening, and the amount of gore and blood will satisfy even the most iron-stomached horror viewer.

If you can withstand cheesy one-liners and typical occult elements, then you’ll find a bloody horror treat in “Hellraiser: 2022.” It’s free to stream on Hulu, and it’s the perfect film to get you reacquainted with the horror classics this spooky season.

Rating: 6/10

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