Horror Movie Review: Hellraiser (2022)

It has been 4 years since Hellraiser: Judgement released, you know what that means. That’s right, it’s time for another attempt at somehow recapturing the magic of a film that released 35 years ago. As a huge fan of the franchise, I’ve been pretty forgiving to each new entry but even I have my limits. Revelations was a massive low point and then Judgement tried something different which led to mixed results. I had begun to feel as Jaded and tired as the long running film franchise itself.

Then, in 2022 I saw something I never expected to see. Hellraiser was getting a major reboot on a prominent streaming platform (HULU) with some recognisable names being involved in its creation. Not only that but it was being given a decent budget and the people behind it appeared to show genuine understanding for what fans wanted to see. Being the 11th entry, could this really be it? Could this be the long awaited return to form or would it kill Hellraiser as a franchise dead once and for all? Let’s find out.

During a party at millionaire Roland Voight’s mansion, Joey comes across a mechanical puzzle box, which Voight insists he solve. Joey solves the configuration and is stabbed by a blade hidden inside the box. A portal opens, from which chains fly out and rip Joey apart, as Voight demands an audience with Leviathan.

Six years later, recovering addict Riley is living with her brother Matt, his boyfriend Colin, and their roommate Nora. Riley’s boyfriend, Trevor, convinces her to help break into an abandoned storage warehouse, where they discover the puzzle box. Returning home late, Riley gets into an argument with Matt and leaves. At an empty park, she solves the box but avoids being cut by the blade. The Cenobites appear and demand she choose another as sacrifice. Matt finds Riley blacked out and, as he tries to wake her up, inadvertently cuts himself on the box. He goes to a nearby restroom to clean his wound. Riley hears him scream and discovers that he has vanished.

Riley visits Voight’s abandoned mansion, finding his journals and learning that the box has multiple configurations, each of which requires a victim to be “marked” by the box’s blade for the Cenobites to take. On completion, the box allows its holder to receive a “gift” from Leviathan, the entity that rules over Hell. Riley sees an apparition of Matt and is horrified to discover he is dead.

Trevor, Colin, and Nora arrive to take Riley home. While Riley explains her findings to Colin, a mutilated Voight stabs Nora with the box. The group attempts to escape the mansion in a van, but Nora is taken by the Cenobites. Their leader, The Priest, taunts Nora, then flays her. The group crashes the van and tries to walk back to the mansion. Riley is confronted by The Priest, who commands her to sacrifice two souls with the last two configurations, or the Cenobites will take her. After Trevor is injured by one of the Cenobites, Riley solves the next configuration and stabs it. The Cenobite gets torn to pieces as the next sacrifice.

The group makes it back to the mansion, realizing that there are steel doors designed to lock the Cenobites out. Can they survive?

You can never top the original, it’s a well-known fact. Would I choose Hellraiser (2022) over Hellraiser (1987) or Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)? absolutely not. Now, would I choose it over every single other Hellraiser film? I can confidently say yes. Okay, I actually have a huge soft spot for Hellraiser: Inferno (2000) but I accept that it was never even designed to be a Hellraiser film at all.Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Anyway, this new entry does a lot of good things but it isn’t without flaws. Firstly, I liked how it took certain aspects we saw in the original and evolved them in interesting ways. This is most obvious when it comes to the Lament Configuration itself. Not only through the numerous configurations that we see in the film but as well the idea of the user having to go through escalating stages. I liked the concept of it cutting someone which leaves them “marked”. Hellraiser does a nice job of expanding upon the lore in ways that I have not seen done previously.

Enough beating around the bush, let’s talk Cenobites. Now, I can appreciate the incredible effort and artistry on display to create these tortured souls. The practical effects work is impressive and gruesome to look at. My only criticism being that the designs can feel little bit over the top to the point where as impressive as it is, it looks quite artificial. There’s something too clean and beautiful about the flesh. The original Hellraiser had a dirty, grimy, slimy, shiny look about it and the gore that was just nasty to look at.

The story and its characters serve their purpose well enough. Riley and her struggles with addiction are a nice backdrop for a Hellraiser story. I can’t say I felt too attached to any of them but the actors all do a great job. Jamie Clayton is commanding and memorable as our new “priest”, she has some cool one liners and made the role feel like her own rather than a cheap imitation.

Overall, Hellraiser (2022) breathes new life into a franchise that was barely on life support with the plug about to be pulled. It’s a refreshing take that should appease new fans and old. It may not be anything truly ground-breaking but the foundations are now there for hopefully more to come.


  • Liam Fisher

    Owner/Editor/Writer/YouTuber - Typical 90s-00s kid; raised on Pokémon, Final Fantasy & the Attitude Era. In fact, that makes up about 99% of my personality. The remaining 1% is dedicated to my inner rage for people who still don’t understand the ending of Lost or those that enjoyed the Game of Thrones final season. Find me on GBHBL where I’ll most likely be reviewing horror movies or games. Also, see me on our YouTube channel!

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