Written by: Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski, David S. Goyer
Directed By: David Bruckner
Stars: Odessa A’zion, Jamie Clayton, Adam Faison
IMDB Rating: 6.1/10 Stars
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 61%
Plot Synopsis: A young woman struggling with addiction comes into possession of an ancient puzzle box, unaware that its purpose is to open a gateway to a hellish dimension outside the known universe summoning the beings known as the Cenobites. The Cenobites, while once humanoid, are perceived as both angels and demons, they are simply "explorers" from another dimension seeking carnal experiences, and they can no longer differentiate between pain and pleasure.
My Review: Where to begin… This review will have heavy SPOILERS for the 2022 “Hellraiser” reboot film. If you have not watched this yet and do not want your experience SPOILED. I suggest you stop reading NOW… I watched this the day after I watched “Halloween Ends” (2022) and my feelings about this movie are much the same, but in reverse. Where I hated the plot convention they used in “Halloween Ends” the movie was made competently. “Hellraiser” (2022) has a strong story idea, but looks like a made for cable TV episode. I kept feeling like I was watching the pilot episode for a “Hellraiser” show. That is what this movie felt like. While the plot is a decent one; with its take on addiction being the focal point of the story, actually is a fantastic idea for a “Hellraiser” story to be centered around. It is heavily mis-executed though. Same as “Halloween Ends,” tone is all wrong. The scenes that are supposed to create tension fail very hard on its face.
David Bruckner has some pretty solid credits under his belt. I just think the effort here as a director really misses the mark. I know this came out on HULU and all, but he should have been able to secure more control over the final cut of the film. I actually do not know, at the time of this writing, if this is “David Bruckner’s: Hellraiser” or not. I hope not. This movie is poorly executed.
“Hellraiser” (2022) doesn’t know how to capture horror on film and it be good. Sure, the Cenobite stuff was decent (when they are actually in the movie), but the tone is all wrong, again in this one. The scenes that are supposed to create tension fail to do that.
Whatever camera they shot this on and lit the rooms for really made this movie look like something on cable TV over being seen in a theater and later a TV. The very look of the movie is so awful it was actually distracting for me. I had to make it really dark in my viewing area just to see anything. Also for the love of god why in the FK is there a SUPER DARK filter on the camera to give the impression everything is in shadow? Why do modern day filmmakers feel that making it look dark in every scene, so much that you cannot even see what it is that is happening, is creating horror and tension by default?
Just because it is visually dark, doesn’t make it scary or create tension. For someone that writes and works in horror I shouldn’t have to point the finger and say; ‘go watch “Hereditary” (2018), “Altered States” (1980), “The Thing” (1982) & perhaps the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984).’ That is how you can create tension and horror on a low budget. I am a little surprised David Bruckner allowed this out the door as is. This to me is more like a rough cut, regardless of look, with the pacing.
I keep saying the plot is solid. I feel like having addicts or recovering addicts trying to find their way back to civilization only to come into contact with the box is a fantastic approach, but it’s just mismanaged the whole way. It has its fair share of WOKE culture stuff in there, but it doesn’t dominate the story. I feel even worse about the WOKE culture stuff in this, because it feels like they didn’t want it in there, but did put it in. Like a checklist. Insert WOKE content here and there. Whatever, if it works, fine, if not, it’s not our problem. We did the WOKE checklist. They actually take this approach with characterization throughout. The characters are not very stable from the start.
You have Riley, a recovering drug addicted, who is hooking up with a guy she met at group rehab. He is into shady stuff and she agrees to go rob an abandon cargo container. When they get there they only find the box. Riley and her brother fight when she gets home. She leaves with the box. She is in her car and finds a stash of pills. She takes the drugs and the box and goes messing around till she opens the box. People around her get marked by the box and are taken by the cenobites. Riley begins to find out who owns the cargo container and she finds out it is owned by a shady millionaire named Roland Voight who has been presumed dead for 6 years.
Doesn’t sound too bad right?
The movie is right at the 2-hour mark and we do not get to see anything really “Hellraiser” till the third act of the film. What we finally find out is the villain/millionaire Roland Voight has been hanging around his falling apart mansion with no power and believed dead that has a contraption attached to him that twists his nerve endings, leaving him in constant pain. He has orchestrated this whole thing from a basement with what exactly? This movie’s villain has so many logistical issues on how he got to this point it just blows my mind. This movie totally lost me story-wise and with the look of the film looking like a badly shot Cable TV movie I was left blah about doing more movies based on this. Some of the direct to DVD “Hellraiser” sequels were better than this.
“Hellraiser” (2022) is watchable and there are things I liked, but the things I do not like “heavily” outweigh what I liked and to me that is what ruins the film. The exact same line I said in my “Halloween Ends” (2022) review before this one.
Absolutely Fricikin’ Sad…
I may have a degree in film and write a lot about film, but I am no filmmaker. I have no major credits to my name, yet, but I do not always hate on movies. But when you have large properties like this and “Halloween” that can make money if you just put out a respectable film and not try to get too cute, overly complex, and woke about it, yeah I am gonna give them a negative review. I praise 1981’s POSSESSION. I praise a lot of horror genre films. I also tend to hate the ones that pissed me the FK off too… Like these did… Cheers…