Directed by Victor Garcia
To fully demonstrate just how low the cinematic world of Hellraiser has gone (yes, lower than Hellraiser: Hellworld), there’s a scene in Hellraiser: Revelations in which a young woman named Emma enters a living room and reads the definition of “cenobite” to her co-stars.
This is the type of idiocy to be expected from a dim-witted remake, but the ninth entry in a seriesâ€¦ Shameful. A scene like this has been avoided in the franchise for over 20 years and the fact that it now exists, well, you hear that bell tolling in the distance? No, it’s not a puzzle box being opened. It’s the final death knell. Revelations is a canvas of atrocities splattered with overacting and dumbfounding drama that completely overshadows the fact that there are a few workable ideas in the story. But none of them are properly executed.
Connected to the first film in themes only, Revelations calls upon all of the familiar trappings of a Hellraiser story: The box. A gnarly vagrant. Pinhead. His fellow cenobites. Murder. A skinless victim seeking spilled blood and flesh. The cohesiveness of the story is brittle, however, and it tries to hide its flaws by throwing in wink-wink nods to the original Hellraiser. But just because the filmmakers are hip to Clive Barker’s tale, much like the audience is (one has to presume, especially if one is watching a “part 9”), it doesn’t mean the story is going to work.
Like it’s direct-to-DVD predecessors, this chapter is a stand-alone tale that introduces Nico and Steven, two lads, bored with their posh suburban existence, who aim to get their “dicks wet” during a trip to Mexico that promises plenty of debauchery.
The story tangles itself up on a narrative level, bouncing between what occurred on said trip and to the present day, where their respective parents (the Bradleys and the Cravens – get it?) – and Steven’s sister, Emma – are coming together to have dinner and, in some weird way, grieve over the mysterious disappearance of the kids.
The only evidence that was left behind from Steven and Nico’s trip was the Lament Configuration and a digital camera that shows the pair screwing around with the box until Pinhead and his brethren show up. Why the parents show no curiosity as to who, or what, Pinhead – first seen as an out-of-focus bald figure – is never really addressed. The adults are merely portrayed as clueless souls wandering about looking for answersâ€¦even though some of the answers they seek are playing out on a camera in front of them.
While these dullards discuss their angst around the puzzle box, the film jumps to Pinhead who doesn’t appear to be doing much with his free time but stroking bloodied chains and making sinister faces. And apparently he can hear the family talking, too, so he seems to be some genie in a bottle to some degree now, stuck in the box waiting to be freed. That’s not to say he doesn’t have much to do. This time he’s siring a “pseudo-Pinhead;” when the two stand side-by-side, it’s a farcical twist on the Austin Powers “mini-me.”
Ultimately, Steven shows up to crash the dinner party and with wide-eyed mumbling he explains to the adults how he escaped hell and the cenobites (prompting lil’ Emma to look up the word). The parents don’t know what to do – their cell phones don’t work, the land line doesn’t work and their cars are mysteriously “gone,” signifying that Pinhead’s control on our reality can extend to grand theft auto. So, what do they do? Wait for daylight to come because “someone might be outside of the house” waiting for them.
A lot of nothing occurs from here on out while we’re given even more glimpses of Nico and Steven’s big Mexican adventure and it’s all pretty familiar Hellraiser-y type stuff, except it’s filled with dead hookers, awful dialogue and even worse performances from Jay Gillespie and Nick Eversman. Let’s just say Nico is no “Uncle Frank.”
Hellraiser: Revelations makes room for a little bit of incest (recalling Amityville II: The Possession) before it culminates in a twist – you might see coming if you know the first film well – and the release of Pinhead, pseudo-Pinhead and a female chatterer who have come to collect their souls. And honestly, it amounts to no grand revelation no Hellraiser fan worth his or her salt hasn’t seen already. All of the ideas and themes to back up the film are there, but are so thread-bare, nothing resonates. Furthermore, the characters are ill-defined; they’re nothing but weak shadows of the archetypes one would find in a Hellraiser story. It also certainly doesn’t help that Pinhead is so insultingly portrayed (Doug Bradley wanted no part of this) that any time he’s on screen, you’re either chuckling or slapped into silence by the silliness of it all.
With more story development and production value, sure, some of the story’s seeds could have been overhauled, but, we’ve got what we got: Another brainless direct-to-DVD Hellraiser film that offers more suffering than any others that have come before it.