“You wanna play games you will lose.” – Hellraiser (2022)
Let me be clear, David Bruckner’s new Hellraiser does a lot of things well. The expansion of the Lament Configuration’s design, while unnecessary, is fun. The puzzle-box effects as the Cenobites arrive are great (there’s a sequence in a van that, as Trevor Henderson points out, is worth the price of admission) and the Cenobites themselves are well-designed and nicely performed throughout, even if they also all look like they’re already NECA action figures.
But, underneath all that, the film is so sterile and not even remotely horny, which are such weird things for a Hellraiser movie to be. As I said on social media, “I don’t know how to explain it but, despite having several sex scenes, this new Hellraiser emphatically does not fuck.” There is no passion underneath this machinery.
Ironically enough, David Bruckner’s last film, The Night House, which was, itself, rumored to be a repurposed Hellraiser spec script, is actually probably a better Hellraiser movie. Sure, it still doesn’t fuck either, but at least it kind of understands what fucking is. It’s not as grand as this film turned out to be, and if it had been released under the standalone title Hellraiser, as a reboot of the first film, as this one was, the fanbase would have been rabid. But it had a better handle on obsession, which is what you really have to get, even more than passion, to get Hellraiser.