It’s been 25 years since the original Hellraiser was brought to the big screen, unleashing Clive Barker’s twisted nightmare visions to the unwashed horror masses. Based on his novella The Hellbound Heart, the first Hellraiser and the resulting sequel are considered classics in the genre. Obviously this led to a long line of sequels. After the first two movies, Barker decided to not be involved in the movies, and there was a noticeable change in quality, and not for the better. Absurd plots, leading eventually to straight-to-video releases, and finally tweaking scripts that had nothing to do with the Hellraiser series to feature Pinhead for maybe a couple of minutes somewhere near the end or so just to slap the Hellraiser franchise on the product. This made the fans jaded and filled us with a despair that our beloved series would ever find its way back.
Rumors circulated for years that there was going to be either a reboot or a Clive Barker involved sequel. But, in 2011 we got this instead. Hellraiser: Revelations, another direct-to-video sequel that delivers neither Clive Barker’s involvement, Doug Bradley as Pinhead, or for that matter any kind of “revelations” promised in the subtitle.
No, what we get instead is 90 minutes of a very low budget movie trying very hard to be a Hellraiser movie, but failing so miserably you can’t help but feel pity for everyone involved with this thing. Well, almost everybody.
Now, before you go and think I’m just trolling just to be a trolling jerk horror movie snob, let me say this: at least those involved tried on the outset to actually make a Hellraiser movie. Instead of giving the puzzle box and Cenobites brief cameo appearances in their own movies, the story in Hellraiser: Revelations dips a bit more into the Cenobite mythos, and tries to capture the same kind of spirit as that of the original.. Problem is, this isn’t enough to make this a good movie.
As far as the story goes: Two annoying overprivileged white boys are videotaping their road trip to “Tee-WHANNA!” for one of the two’s birthday, I forget which one. Once at “Tee-WHANNA!” (seriously, that’s said so many times within five minutes in an annoying faux-Spanish accent that only white people are capable of that I had trouble not envisioning beating that kid to a pulp with a Tequila bottle), it’s only a matter of time before they get their car jacked, kill a hooker, and run into a homeless guy who gives ’em the infamous puzzle box from Hell. In that order. Of course, they decide to fiddle with the thing, and they both go missing. Flash forward a year, and the parents of the two missing boys have gathered together for dinner. The daughter of one of the families was dating the missing son of the other family, who has her suspicions about the truth concerning her brother and boyfriend’s disappearances. To make matters worse, the videotape that was turned over back to the family shows some rather mysterious and disturbing things captured on the tape, including the opening of the puzzle box and the appearance of a weird leather-and-pins festooned guy. Oh, and did I mention that the Mexican police also turned over the puzzle box to the family? Yeah, that’s there too. And the girl decides to play around with the thing, which results in her brother suddenly reappearing by the pool, in shock and the worse for wear. The boy then begins to fill in the blanks of what happened in the year, he takes the families hostage, then he’s not what he seems to be…ugh, my brain is hurting just playing the movie back in my head to get a decent synopsis going. Anyway, the Cenobites stop by to redecorate, say a bunch of pretentious sounding stuff and introduce the surviving family members to their own special brand of body modification, the girl is told she’s gonna see them again some day, and then…the end. It just ends.
Overall, when I got done watching this thing and pressed the button to have it taken off of the list, I couldn’t help but wonder what would have resulted had Clive Barker actually been involved with this. We’ll never know, but there were some bits and pieces that made me think that they really wanted to do a good Hellraiser movie. Thing is, the effects, though practical and not CGI, were cheep looking, the actors ranged between mediocre to excruciatingly bad (especially that one kid who came back a year later, I didn’t even bother to look up the character’s name I give that much of a rat’s patootie at this point), and the Cenobites themselves came off as less other-dimensional horrors and more S&M cosplay enthusiasts. In the end you can’t help but feel you just watched a really watered down product. Hellraiser Lite, if you will. Pass.