Remakes, Reboots and Requels? (thank you, Scream) are the kings of Hollywood right now and it isn’t a trend that is going away anytime soon. For some of us, this isn’t our first rodeo and we’ve witnessed countless franchises go through body mods every few years. Hellraiser, in particular, slowly diminished with its sequels to a point of what felt like no return. Because after all, how do you capture the essence of something that literally ripped out the hearts and insides of so many and hung them on the wall?
Well you don’t – You start again and that’s what Hulu’s Hellraiser brought to the table. A new story, new final girl, a new Pinhead and a new Lemarchand’s Box; It’s Hellraiser for a new generation.
The two stand out performances are from Odessa A’zion as Riley and Jamie Clayton as Pinhead, who both perfectly encapsulate the newness of this version. Odessa A’zion brings an emotional and fraught performance as Riley, who is a recovering addict. She’s messy, makes wrong decisions and even can be hard to root for at times. You might want to shake her but it’s because you want her to win.
Jamie Clayton has a presence that would rival Doug Bradley’s. She brings an ethereal feel to an industrial character but it still carries weight. Not an easy job when you have such iconic shoes to fill. Hellraiser’s decision to also gender bend pinhead was a smart one because It removes the character from what we know but also in our current social climate, it raises questions around femme villians and how as audiences we react to them. Pinhead is meant to be alluring, manipulative and charged with sex and pain. Clayton’s performance brings that in every scene she is in. But is that because we are more likely to accept that from a more femme presenting villian?
The film as a whole achieved what it set out to do, it has brought Hellraiser to a new generation and I can’t help but hope that also leads to them watching the original franchise. Not because this film missed the mark massively but because the film does rely on these two actor’s performances. The story is good however it could have been more succinct. At times it felt more complicated than it needed to. There’s a simplicity it missed that the original has but ultimately, this film does stand on its on two feet.