By Jonathan Carter
Hellraiser (2022) Review
Four years after the last entry in the franchise, Hellraiser (2022), comes and delivers the
breath of fresh air that the eleven film franchise needed to steer into a new direction.
Directed by David Bruckner, the new Hellraiser film begins with a tough ask for the audience by
giving them a seemingly unlikable protagonist in the form of Riley. Played by Odessa A’Zion,
Riley is a recovering addict who lives with her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn). She is
dismissive of her brothers concerns for her, and involves herself in illegitimate activities with her
boyfriend, Trevor (Drew Starkey). Through these activities she and her boyfriend stumble upon
the Lament Configuration. This sets into motion the film’s plot as the Cenobites soon come after
her friends and those close, to take them for sacrifice for their god, Leviathan. The film
creates a great pattern with this formula which is given more depth by a well done reveal by the
final third of the film. This great addition adds new context which creates a reflection on past character actions.
The characters and acting are the standout of this film, especially from Odessa A’Zion.
The most impressive performance is given by Jamie Clayton, as Pinhead or the Hellpriest. Her
performance really elevates the cenobites to be something more than just your average horror
movie monsters. Her performance is one of the best in the franchise. Odessa’s
character Riley as said, starts out unlikable- which may turn some off. Her acting brings
out the sympathy that the director is seeking throughout the film. Riley’s friends and brother in
the film, while giving good performances, don’t particularly stand out as much as her. That may
be due to the fact that they are meant to be disposable for the plot, but you do still feel for them.
Coming from a franchise known for the original’s groundbreaking practical effects, this
film had a lot to live up to, and there is good and bad to say.
The film expertly uses a large amount of practical effects with CGI enhancements to create some of the best visuals since the original. Unfortunately, the bad news is that many times the kills in the film are off-screen or some scenes are so dark that you may have trouble seeing exactly what is going on. Thankfully,
what’s given full focus when it needs, is the design of the Cenobites, which the series is also
known for . The Cenobites saw a redesign in this film, having ditched the black leather of the
eighties. They now seem to use their own flesh to create their intricate, yet grotesquely
beautiful looks. The soundtrack of the film also enhances the Cenobites presence. The new
soundtrack done by Ben Lovett does a great job at creating the tension, horror, and eeriness that
the film thrived on. Some of that is due to the reincorporation of the music by Christopher
Young from the original 1987 film.
In the end, the film creates the chance for this franchise to thrive again through amazing
lead performances, great directing, interesting plot, and superb practical/CGI effects. The film
does suffer from a lack of on-screen deaths that you would expect from a horror film of this
series. Also, a somewhat forgettable cast of side characters does keep the film from ever
reaching the heights it could. The film overall sits at around a 7 out of 10, with enough content for old
fans to enjoy, as well as new fans to grab onto.