‘Hellraiser’ review: Hulu doesn’t raise the bar for Clive Barker’s gory original
Although the new “Hellraiser” is billed as “reimagining” Clive Barker’s 1987 horror flick, it’s not like the title ever went away, raising six direct-to-video productions (the last in 2018) after the four films in theaters. If you’ve somehow skipped, rough, nine of them, this direct-to-Hulu release delivers a chillingly believable narrative in an over-bloated package that would benefit from a few targeted stings.
The film starts off promisingly enough, introducing “ER” alum Goran Visnjic, playing the typical billionaire with bad intentions who seeks to acquire a mysterious puzzle box that can be used to summon Cenobites, supernatural beings of a another dimension whose horrible appetites are the “R” stuff ratings are made of.
The narrative then shifts to Riley (Odessa A’zion from Netflix’s “Grand Army”), a young woman struggling with an addiction who ends up stealing from the wrong storage facility, putting her and those around her ( including her brother) in danger and creating an incentive for her to decipher what might be going on.
First plagued by strange visions, she is finally confronted by Pinhead, here played by Jamie Clayton (“Sense8”), who gives a sense of menace under what has always seemed to be the most painstaking makeup in the world, too. iconic though. be.
Reuniting the team behind “The Night House,” the film was directed by David Bruckner, with veteran genre writer/producer David S. Goyer sharing story credit with screenwriters Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski. As the plot finally connects Riley’s arc to the opening two full hours, the narrative lags behind as it attempts to create a sense of connection with the supporting players, leading into a climactic sequence. prolonged that’s typically gory but less than thrilling, including what’s perhaps best described as a slow-speed chase.
“Hellraiser” obviously operates within fairly well-defined parameters, and drawing on 35 years of screen history, delivers the most basic level of special effects and gore, without – notwithstanding the claim to “reimagine “- bring a lot of freshness to the formula. It also fits with Hulu’s strategy of featuring films from well-known franchises, with “Prey” – from the “Predator” universe – among recent examples.
For those just looking for another dose of Pinhead and Cenobites, this is probably enough to get the job done. But once “Hellraiser” makes that point, uh, the movie feels more like a snack — or a bite to eat — than a meal.
“Hellraiser” premieres October 7 on Hulu.