Us: “Halloween is over…”
Amazon Prime, releasing the new Hellraiser without fanfare: “You sure, hun?”
This week we finally get to grips with a new Pinhead, a whole new slant on the puzzle box and ponder the yassification of our beloved Cenobites. And it feels like a very exciting time to be alive. Horror this year, in my humble opinion, has been pretty good so where does this baby fit into it all?
Well, grab your whips and chains – and let me excite you.
We have such sights to show you.
A take on Clive Barker’s 1987 horror classic where a young woman struggling with addiction comes into possession of an ancient puzzle box, unaware that its purpose is to summon the Cenobites.
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller ∙ IMDB user rating: 6.0
My score: 4/5 ∙ Runtime: 121 mins
We begin our decent into Hell via a hedonistic sex party at millionaire Roland Voight’s (Goran Visnjic) sprawling estate. A vest-sporting sex worker looks out of place here but his role in Voight’s night soon becomes clear when he – and we – catch sight of a curious looking box.
From the shadows, Voight appears and urges Joey to figure out the puzzle box which we all know can only end in a happy fluffy end for all involved. SIKE. The box badly slices Joey’s hand, then chains appear from every angle to tear him limb from limb. Voight’s beside himself with glee? ecstasy? as he demands an audience with Leviathan – because what else is left to entertain the person who has everything?
Six years later and we meet Riley (A’zion), a recovering addict. She’s freshly dating Trevor (Drew Starkey), a wasteman her friends and brother, Matt (Brandon Flynn) aren’t exactly enamored by. She’s doing her best which by Matt’s standards just isn’t good enough. Trevor persuades his girlfriend to rob an abandoned warehouse, surmising that the owner of whatever’s in there will never notice it’s gone (Trevor doesn’t have the gift of pre-planning FYI). While, Riley is reluctant to follow this path, she gives in because Trevor has the good D and honestly, I’ve done worst things for less.
So the plan is to get in and out, with no dramas and unimaginable wealth as the end game – but you didn’t think it would be that easy, did ya? Riley and Trevor break in and find – you guessed it – a curious looking puzzle box. The pair return home but after a fight with her brother, our girl retreats to a park across the street to examine the box closer. She manages to solve the puzzle and avoids being cut but the Cenobites aren’t happy, rocking up and demanding a blood sacrifice in her place.
What’s a girl to do?
Well, unfortunately the incident with the box results in Matt’s disappearance and Riley, Matt’s boyfriend Colin (Drew Starkey) and their roommate Nora (Aoife Hinds) embark on a rescue mission that takes them to places they’ve never even dreamed of. Riley must find a way to Voight’s mansion, work out the rules of the Cenobites’ twist game and get Matt back alive, without losing any more loved ones.
Of course, our friends the Cenobites are lead by The Priest (Clayton), who has a lovely way with words and is keen to collect souls in exchange for Matt’s safe return, if that’s even a possibility now. What will Riley do and who will be left to warn against the perils of playing with mystery puzzle boxes willy nilly?
Honestly, this is definitely one of the better sequels, even if that isn’t saying much. It looks good, let’s start there. The evolution of the Cenobites makes sense and although I’m in the minority here, I do find it pleasing to the eye. I do agree though that they look too clean, more like oil paintings than the S&M freaks of the original. Each Cenobite gets a decent amount of screen time and there are three of them: a new Chatterer, The Weeper (this would be me) and The Gasp. I dig them.
Obviously it’s all about how good Pinhead is and here she is, gorgeous and deadly – and Jamie Clayton serves her well. I actually enjoy the mixture of delicacy and toughness of The Priest, and appreciate that she’s a character in her own right.
I do think Julia was what made the first film so good and there was something sexier about it, even apart from the BDSM slant, so the film does suffer from not having a decent villain. Voight is fine but too pantomime for my taste. At least in this context.
I don’t really care about any of the mortals, even Riley, and I think the film really missed a trick not digging deeper into the theme of addiction. It would be so pleasing to really understand the pull of Riley’s desires – kind of fitting, non? As for the others, the only thing I recall about them are their unsexy as hell names. Colin and Trevor? You’re on your own boys, sorry.
The puzzle box is really cool and I enjoyed the ending, which really reminded me of a certain French extremist horror movie I can’t mention, lest I give the game away. In conclusion, I had fun and I’m here if Bruckner wants to expand The Priest’s cinematic universe, even if it’s not perfect yet.