Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hellraiser Revelations – review

Director: Víctor García

Release date: 2011

Contains spoilers

After I decided that Hellraiser was Vamp, due to the presence and activity of Uncle Frank, I dutifully then looked at the second film as Julia had the same traits to regain her body and skin as Frank did – in other words stealing the blood of victims.

Following this the series ran on and on with a variety of differing quality films with the unifying features of the puzzle box and Pinhead. Sometimes these seemed a little odd – probably because many were non-Hellraiser scripts submitted to Dimension Films, into which the Hellraiser aspect was forcibly bolted on. None of them contained a character akin to Frank and Julia.

Pinhead sneers
That was, until this film was released – the ninth in the series and one that had been widely lambasted and lamented by critics and fans alike (and utterly disowned by Clive Barker). One of the main reasons for this was the fact that Doug Bradley had turned down the script and so did not reprise the Pinhead role. This went instead to Stephan Smith Collins (Suck & Moan) and, to be fair, he does seem out of his depth – possibly due to the scripting, possibly due to the makeup, maybe the direction or maybe just because they were mighty big shoes to fill… On the other hand it may have been just him but let’s have a look at what happens in film before assessing if the film deserved all the derision.

Steven (Nick Eversman, Vampires Suck) and Nico (Jay Gillespie) are two overly privileged young men who have decided to leave their LA homes (and it sounds like they intend the move to be for good). Steven thinks they are going to Disney Land but, instead, Nico is heading to the border and they are going to Tijuana. We see all this through found camera footage (but don’t worry, the found footage aspect is soon abandoned). We see them have their car stolen and then see footage of Steven opening the box and Pinhead appearing.

Tracey Fairaway as Emma
The footage is being watched by Steven’s mum, Sarah (Devon Sorvari), who has the camera. When Emma (Tracey Fairaway), his sister, comes in she puts it away and won’t discuss what is on it. Dad, Ross (Steven Brand), has sent Emma to tell her that Nico’s parents, Kate (Sanny van Heteren) and Peter (Sebastien Roberts, Being Human US), have arrived. It has been a year since the boys went missing and the parents continue to have dinner parties together but don’t talk about their disapearance. Emma wants to talk about it (Nico was her boyfriend as well as Steven being her brother). The parents had hired a PI, who found Steven’s bag and the camera – the footage has mystified the police.

accidental death?
Emma stomps off and has the box – it was in the bag. She opens it but causes it to shut before it fully opens and suddenly Steven appears – this appearance was, I believe, coincidental to the box opening and, somehow, the aborted opening seemed undetected by the cenobites. Steven talks about not going back and the adults discover that the phone line is down and their cars are missing – this leads them to assume someone is out there. We then get the boys’ story in bits... It involves Nico killing (he says accidentally) a prostitute and being subsequently given the box by a vagrant (Daniel Buran, True Blood).

popping out of the mattress
After Nico is taken by Pinhead, a shell-shocked Steven picks up a prostitute and, whilst roughly taking her, hears whispers from Nico and so he bludgeons her with the box and a skinless Nico pops out of the bed. Now there are a couple of things wrong with this picture, firstly the whispering to Steven from a Hell Dimension seems a bit off and secondly we don’t know that Nico was killed on the mattress – indeed it may be her mattress – but out he pops anyway and goes on to drain her. We see (or actually don’t really see) more killing in the form of another prostitute and her baby (it stops crying off screen and the implication is Nico drains it). Eventually he suggests getting a guy so he can steal his skin but Steven wants out…

the box
So… it was a very simple story and strangely similar to the first film; pleasure seeker gets the box, gets taken to Hell, escapes, sucks blood and wants to escape the cenobites (in this case trading another soul for his). Yet as a film it failed to work. Part of it was Pinhead – truthfully – but part of it was in the general scripting and characters. In Hellraiser we actually cared. Kirsty was drawn as a sympathetic character, Julia a devious vixen and Frank came across, from the very off, as a truly deviant character. Nico comes across as a spoilt child throwing temper tantrums and the remaining families; well frankly we don’t care about them.

Emma is drawn darkly
Actually, the Emma character is drawn with more of a darkness – something Pinhead notes and wants to allow to develop as he believes she will come to him eventually of her own volition – but even that was curtailed and needed developing and following through. The scenario just didn’t ring true – the removal of cars without anyone noticing and the take down of the landline just seemed off, though I could buy them being in a mobile phone dead zone, hence having the landline.

Stephan Smith Collins as Pinhead
However, as off as it might have been I don’t know if it quite deserves the derision that was slung at it… not quite, at least. 3 out of 10 elevates it above the worst of the detractors but it is still very much the weakest link of all the films and was, indeed, a bit of a mistake.

The imdb page is here.


Unknown said...

You should try Clive Barker's Midian (based on his novel Cabal). There's definitely some vampiric traits in there as well.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

thanks for that Alex, it'll go on the list :)

Unknown said...

I got the name wrong though, it's called Nightbreed.