Movie Review – Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)

In 2010 Dimension Films had a revelation. They realized that if they did not make another Hellraiser sequel fast they would lose the rights to the franchise. Like a procrastinating student cramming an hour before an exam, they quickly threw the ninth Hellraiser film together for a paltry $350,000, filming over just three weeks. Doug Bradley declined to reprise his role as the iconic Pinhead, not submitting to the meager sum which they offered him, and the role went instead to Stephan Smith Collins.

The deck was clearly stacked against this film, and the budget constraints and reckless speed with which it was made are painfully apparent. The sets look cheap, the camerawork is sloppy, the acting is generally poor, the script is weak and the dialogue is stilted, and the story is mostly an unimaginative rehash of the first Hellraiser, with a heavy dose of incomprehensible tropes thrown in (why do their friggin’ cars disappear?). They copy the imagery of Clive Barker’s directorial debut but they don’t fully understand it. Do I need to even mention the families being named Bradley and Craven? Plus, Collins is given the short shrift with fan loathing by not having his voice properly reverbed in post-production, making his delivery sound ridiculous. This is no fault of his own and while the circumstances would have been better served to create a new Cenobite – maybe even another Lament Configuration – had he been given the appropriate treatment his Pinhead would have been passable.

Honestly, this is truly a shame. Revelations is the first Hellraiser movie to be written as an original entry into the series since 1996’s Hellraiser: Bloodline. While it’s a thin rehash of the original film and doesn’t quite understand its source material, it actually comes closest to embracing the themes of the first film. After a victim gets his face ripped off, Pinhead speaks of “pain and pleasure, indivisible.” The characters are once again attracted to the Lament Configuration for its promise of extreme experiences, particularly pleasures.

Had this script gone through more rewrites and been given adequate care, there may have been a decent Hellraiser film in there. Alas, such a film we were not given. Hellraiser: Revelations is a low point, even after the terrible Hellraiser: Hellworld. The mythos which Barker created is still relevant to our era and deserves better.

Grade: F