April 4, 2012

Movie Review: Hellraiser - Revelations

It has been 25-years since the big screen was first graced with Clive Barker's nightmarish Hellraiser. That movie has stood the test of time and remains one of the top horror creations of all time. On top of that, the film introduced us to one of the most iconic of movie monsters in Pinhead. Pinhead, as played by Doug Bradley, always provided an atmosphere of menace and class. The guy is easy to be scared of. Anyway, following the first two films in the series, there has been a steady stream of mediocrity poured out by the studio, first in theaters and then direct to home video. Revelations is just another example of that endless stream of mediocre movies as the studio bides its time on their long-rumored big screen remake.

There are a lot of warning signs that point to this being a bad idea. First and foremost, when Doug Bradley turns it down you are sure to raise the ire of the fans and take away the base part of the last few sequels. Unlike some other horror monsters, Bradley is hard to replace, he owns Pinhead. Then there is the fact that it was shot in just a few weeks and runs only 75-minutes. Beyond all that, when you see the movie you will recognize that it probably should never have been started. It is a bad movie.

The strange thing of this experience is that while this is a no-doubter of a bad movie, I found I did not hate it. Don't get me wrong, there are problems all over this thing, from the lousy new Pinhead to pseudo-Pinhead, to the terrible performances, to the half-baked story, to the blink and you miss it run time, to the low production values of the sets, to the shifting perspectives, to the... well, I think you get the idea. I think what I actually like is the idea of it. Well, that and some nice practical effects.

It is actually kind of funny, of all the later sequels (though, I have not seen them all), this one feels most in line with the original. For one thing, it was actually written, or drafted, as a Hellraiser film rather than being retrofitted from other sources. It really is a shame they did not spend more time with it.

The movie opens found footage style in the first person. A couple of teens are heading off to Mexico to get drunk and find women, and that they do. Before long they are drunk and making friends with an odd hobo character who gives them the puzzle box, promising them great thrills beyond their imagination. They open the box, Pinhead shows up and they disappear.

We jump to the future, not sure how long (I have seen some say one year and others three, don't think it makes a difference). The families of the missing boys are getting together for some sort of remembrance. They also happen to have the video camera with all the footage we saw earlier, along with more to be revealed, as well as the box. The brother to one of the boys and girlfriend to the other opens the box and suddenly her brother is there.

To reveal more would be to say to much, let's just say that not all is at seems. Pinhead gets to have some fun and we meet his Chatterer and another Cenobite (a word you can look up in the average dictionary) known as pseudo-Pinhead, which is exactly what it sounds like. People get killed, we learn of moral issues among the families, there is an uncomfortable moment of incest over a bowl of soup, and some other nonsense.

It really is poorly structured. The presentation of the found material is poorly done and never really explained and at times seems to be dropped altogether, which really makes no sense.

The acting is soap opera level, with Pinhead looking rather doughy and more suited to fronting a Euro-goth metal band. Everything rushes along from one moment to the next and it is just awkward, much like this review is getting.

Let me close by saying I did enjoy it in some odd way, but it really is a poor movie and fans should stick to the first two and parts of three and four, or at least to those where Doug Bradley is Pinhead.

Not Recommended.

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