It’s been about six years since the last direct-to-disc sequel in the Hellraiser franchise (Hellraiser: Hellworld) aborted itself into this world. Hellworld was so terribly contrived that watching the film felt like the Cenobites themselves were unleashing limitless suffering upon the loyal fans of the franchise. The bright side, it appeared there would be no more sequels in the future. Seven sequels, with significantly diminishing returns, seemed to have literally sucked every drop of joy (and money) out of Clive Barker’s original masterpiece.
But the studio disagreed.
Facing losing the rights to the franchise the Weinstein Company pulled together a team, including director Victor Garcia (Mirrors 2), and gave them two weeks to shoot a sequel. Yes. Just two weeks. In other words: enough time to throw some gear in a truck, round up some actor types, and shoot on the fly. And it tells from time to time in the film. There’s just not much that can be done at a high level in such a short period.
The shortened timeframe, amongst other production related concerns, led to Doug Bradley leaving his iconic role as Pinhead up for grabs. That unenviable task went to Stephan Smith Collins, who, like Derrick Mears (replaced Kane Hodder in Friday the 13th), will face a TON of fan boy skepticism. His boyish nice guy look gives the character an entirely different vibe than what millions came to know, respect and practically worship. I know this is the Internet and everything must fit neatly into one of two categories: Best or worst ever. But I’m on the fence. His performance is alright, not great by any stretch, but not end of the world terrible as some have speculated.
Opening on the start of a road trip, best friends Steven and Nico (A young Val Kilmer lookalike), are heading to Tijuana to get their “dicks wet” and enjoy some time away from “Generica” and all the other inconveniences of being super rich preppy kids living in Los Angeles. Cry me a river. The boys bring along a handheld camera, which acts as guide later in the film, to document their ill-fated adventure and eventual meet up with the Cenobites. Their weekend quickly spirals out of control when tequila becomes involved. Doesn’t it always? Eventually they meet up with a mysterious grungy looking character (Let’s call him Fake Beard McHomeless) who offers them a chance to “experience ultimate pleasure” and gives the duo a little puzzle box. Queue the ominous music.
Flash forward to an unknown amount of time later. The boys are missing and presumed dead by Mexican authorities. Steven’s parents and his sister, Emma, host a dinner party with Nico’s parents at their posh house way up in the hills, where, conveniently, even Verizon subscribers can’t get service. There is much melodrama about the disappearance of the boys. Melodrama is the right word. It feels a bit like watching a Telenovela and some of the acting is on par with Mentos commercials. Eventually, the puzzle box, which has been kicking it at the house in a duffle bag recovered by the police, is opened by Emma, bringing Steven back from Pinhead’s world. There is much rejoicing. But not all is at is seems.
Steven is not right in the head, to say the least. In the excitement and drama of Steven coming back all the cars (which probably would be a considerable amount based on how rich they are) have disappeared and the land line no longer works. This makes almost no sense. The only thing making less sense is the amount of effort and concern shown by the people whose cars have just been stolen. They walk around a bit and smoke cigars before Fake Beard McHomeless comes back out of seemingly nowhere. The rest of the film is told through Steven and feels very rushed and slapped together. It’s got a Bowling for Columbine woe is me teenage thing going for it (in a bad way) and made me ponder exactly how long a character can live (or not live) after suffering a shotgun blast to the chest if the plot demands it. It’s borderline silly. Actually, it’s way past borderline silly. It’s just flat out ridiculous.
On the plus side, the gore is at least well executed during its limited screen time and looks an awful lot like the original film’s effects – the best example being half-skinned blood drenched persons crawling out of disgusting beds located in run down places. Pinhead, Chatterer and the much talked about Pseudo-Pinhead all look as creepy as ever (especially Chatterer).There are few moments that will make the weak-stomached nauseous, unfortunately those moments are very, very few. And there’s even hooker murder, baby murder, and just a touch a very taboo subject thrown in for good measure. Fans should be pleased that very little CGI is used in the film.
Onto the big question: Where does the film rank against the others in the franchise? I’d say somewhere in the lower half, but certainly not the worst. At least its intent was to be an actual Hellraiser movie, unlike some of the sequels which were stand-alone films that had Cenobites thrown into to cash in on brand recognition. And it’s played straight, no cheesy rock-club Carrie-esque killing scenes or Cenobites with video camera eyes. Don’t get me wrong. It’s flawed and poorly executed, but for what it is, a cheap ($300,000 reportedly) direct-to-disc film made only to save the rights to the franchise, it could have been a lot worse. The only other movie made for the same reason (that I can think of) was the 1994 Fantastic Four movie, which is about as shoddy as it gets.
Hellraiser: Revelations is not great by any stretch of the imagination; not that anyone really expected otherwise. But in the end it was mildly entertaining for a film that was made, not because of grand intentions to revive the franchise back to it glorious roots, but solely because of a business decision.
Check out my reviews of the other 8 films (so far) in the franchise by clicking here.
Snore Factor: ZZZZ