REVIEW: ‘Hellraiser’ is a Reboot Done Right

Hulu’s ‘Hellraiser’ reboot starring Jamie Clayton as The Priest is a movie reboot done right.

The original Hellraiser movie is easily one of the best horror movies of all time. It’s a terrifying concept that focuses on a mysterious box and sadistic creatures known as cenobites. On paper, the concept of Hellraiser is a simple one, a mysterious box that opens a portal to hell. And yet, it’s so much more than that. It’s ultimately about the sacrifices we’re willing to make in order to achieve our own hopes and desires. What made the film the excellent horror movie that it truly was, though, was Doug Bradley‘s Pinhead who managed to be hauntingly captivating. He’s terrifying, and yet, commands every second he’s on the screen. So, how does Hulu’s Hellraiser reboot stack up against the original? It’ll never be able to replace the original movie, but Hulu’s Hellraiser reboot is a reboot done right.

At a time when it has become normal to see countless reboots of classic horror movies, it’s exciting to see one done properly. From a tight and emotional story to an excellent cast, this Hellraiser delivers on all fronts, especially when it comes to the casting of Jamie Clayton. For those only familiar with Clayton from Sense 8, they might be cautious regarding her casting. Worry not, though, Clayton is absolutely terrifying as The Priest. From her tone to her movements and her expressions, Clayton stuns.

This new take on Hellraiser starts off with a meeting between an older woman and a seemingly lost male, as they meet in a private location to finalize a deal they’d made. As we soon find out, however, the male was meant to be sacrificed and the woman knowingly led him to his fate at the hands of the cenobites. (It is of note that none of this is really a spoiler.) The film then jumps forward in time and, we get to meet the film’s true protagonist, Odessa A’zion‘s Riley. Having made mistakes in her life, Riley is trying to get back on course and right her wrongs. Unfortunately for her, though, not everyone around her is so sure she’s capable of doing so. In her drive to do better, Riley will soon find herself face-to-face with a mysterious puzzle box that will change her life forever.

A’zion is a star in the making. She plays off of Clayton’s Priest perfectly. The moments they are on screen together are terrifying and will keep audience members glued to the edge of their seats. The rage, the anger, the pain — Riley goes on such an emotional journey throughout Hellraiser and A’zion rises to the challenge with ease. A’zion is an actor to keep a close eye on going forward.

Hellraiser is easily David Bruckner‘s biggest title to date, and one can only hope he earns more chances to tackle other horror stories in the future. There’s a sense of honor and appreciation of the Hellraiser films before it, which ultimately helps to sell a film that would’ve otherwise seemed unnecessary. Did Hellraiser need a reboot? Probably not. Is Hulu’s Hellraiser worth a watch? Abso-freaking-lutely.

One final note: For those unwilling to accept Clayton as Pinhead, aka The Priest, it is of note that in the books the films are based on, Pinhead is described as having a girlish voice. So, yes, while the character is mainly described as androgynous, there are bits that suggest The Priest is female. “Its voice, unlike that of its companion, was light and breathy—the voice of an excited girl. Every inch of its head had been tattooed with an intricate grid, and at every intersection of horizontal and vertical axes a jeweled pin driven through to the bone. Its tongue was similarly decorated.” Those avoiding the film simply because they’re unwilling to accept The Priest as being female? They’re only keeping themselves from enjoying a damn good reboot.

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