Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)

Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)

Two friends are given a mysterious puzzle box by a vagrant in Mexico and disappear after solving it. Three years later, their grieving families get together for a remembrance dinner but are interrupted when one of the missing teenagers turns up on the doorstep with an extraordinary tale of pleasure, pain and the Cenobites.

 

Rumours of a big budget remake/reboot for Hellraiser have been filtering through channels for years but it’s never got off the ground in one way or another and whilst the likes of Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween receive modern-day reboots, Pinhead and his sadomasochistic buddies have been left to rot in limbo. In order to retain their rights to the franchise, Dimension Films actually needed to use the damned thing otherwise the rights could revert back to someone else (like Clive Barker for instance or another studio interested in doing a reboot). So this is a sequel for sequels sake – the ultimate definition of a cash cow. Its sole purpose is to satisfy the legal needs of a system so that its owners can continue to own the rights to the franchise. There’s no interest in making a decent film here. There’s no love for the franchise shown here. It’s just purely a money thing so that they still own the rights and can do the remake if they want to in future. And that makes me sick because it says everything you need to know about this film. So it’s no surprise to find out that Hellraiser: Revelations is like the bastard child that nobody ever wanted but we have to accept that it lives.

I might just add that I found out about the rights issue after I had watched it so wasn’t going in with any pre-judgments. The last few sequels had been enough to dampen my enthusiasm for any further instalments in this franchise on their own merit! Hellraiser: Revelations looks more like a fan-made internet spoof or a music video for a Scandinavian death metal band than a proper Hellraiser film. It follows virtually the same story as the original as one unlucky character opens the Lament Configuration box and is drawn into the world of the Cenobites and it’s up to another character to provide them with fresh bodies so that they regenerate themselves. Only this time there’s no Andrew J. Robinson sliming it up as Uncle Frank, no Claire Higgins sleazing her way across the screen as Julia and no Doug Bradley speaking like some sort of demonic prophet as Pinhead.

The entire thing has been filmed on one or two sets so its best not to get your eyes accustomed to them too early because they’ll soon get bored. The budget for this thing must have been miniscule as production values are almost non-existent. Everything looks too glossy for a start and there’s no real suspension of disbelief when you’re watching these people on the screen. The film looks like a film if you get what I mean – at no point do you think anything is happening because everyone looks and acts like actors in front of a camera. You can be watching a live action theatre play – there’d be little difference between the quality of the two. Literally the film features sixty minutes of people sitting around a table in a house arguing and discussing the most inane things. Every now and then there are brief snippets of Pinhead and the Cenobites walking around their dimension, biding their time for their next ten seconds of screen time. But for the most, it’s just the same couple of actors sulking, moaning, crying, arguing and sitting in the same two or three rooms of a house. Boring is not the word.

Recasting one of the most iconic roles in horror history is a cardinal sin. Fair enough if the series was to receive its much touted remake, then a new actor would need to assume the mantle set out by Doug Bradley and his infamous portrayals of Pinhead over the years. I mean, Bradley is getting on in age and if a remake was to take off, the same actor would be required to reprise their role in future sequels. But this isn’t billed as a remake, just another sequel to the original canon. Even Bradley saw where the script for this one was heading before the ink had dried and he declined. Now I’m not here to knock the new guy, Stephan Smith Collins, because that would be too easy. Let’s face it: anyone who steps into such an iconic role is going to have a hard time when die-hard fans of franchises think they know best of who to cast. Collins at least looks the part but as soon as he opens his mouth – dear me. Pinhead would have worked better as a mute in this one because the script is atrocious and the delivery is even worse.

The last couple of Hellraiser sequels have featured blink-and-you’ll-miss-him appearances by Pinhead where he comes on-screen, preaches about pleasure and pain in only the way he can and then disappears. Here his screen presence seems unnecessary – it’s as if some scenes were shot simply so that audiences could say “hey look, its Pinhead.” As I’ve said, Collins at least looks sinister enough and the make-up job is pretty solid. But the whole film is too bright and any deficiencies in the make-up effects are evident. Both he and the other Cenobites look just like fans going to a convention. Darkening their scenes and concealing them a little more would have greatly enhanced their presence. But in a film where you’d find better special effects at your local Halloween haunted house attraction, this is an impossible ask. Shot in about three weeks for a budget of around $300,000, every last second of the film smacks of cheapness. Admittedly, the film picks up in the finale when Pinhead and the Cenobites are summoned to the house but it’s simply a rehash of the original and even the film’s gruesome set piece of a person being hooked by the infamous chains looks worse now than it did in the 80s.

 

Clive Barker disowned it. Doug Bradley wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole. Hellraiser: Revelations is the ultimate nadir of a franchise which hit rock bottom with a colossal thud. Instead of putting it out of its misery, Dimension Films has simply kept the series on life support for its own demented pleasures. I really hope fans of the Hellraiser films stay well clear of this and send a clear financial message to the studio – make something as inept as this again and we’ll stop filling your coffers with our cash.

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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