Read Micah’s Review Here:
I knew when I sat down that Hellraiser: Revelations probably wouldn’t be very good. From what I understand, the film was made on the cheap ($300,000 – less than the original cost even without having to factor in inflation) and quickly, because the rights to the franchise were about to expire unless Dimension made a Hellraiser movie by a certain date. So it was hardly going to live up to the original, but I also figured that it’s not like the previous four DTV sequels set a particularly high bar, so maybe, all things considered, it might be at least a reasonably decent entry.
Well, no. In fact, it might just be the worst one yet. There’s a kernel of a good concept, and I can meet them halfway on certain things (from assuming that the time/budget crunch prevented them from exploring the story in a more thorough way), but the acting is terrible across the board, the script is painfully obnoxious, and most damning of all, they couldn’t even get Pinhead right. Doug Bradley opted not to return for the first time ever (which should have been a hint right from the start that this one wouldn’t measure up – he did Hellseeker for Christ’s sake, but drew the line here), and as a result we get a guy that looks something like a kid at a Fangoria con who dresses up as Pinhead and makes you go “Hey, he put some effort into that!” – but at least that kid would be quoting lines from the original movies instead of saying the shit he says here. There is some amusing irony in the fact that they made this movie specifically to hold onto the Pinhead character and couldn’t even get that much right, but the movie is too bad to enjoy it.
The biggest problem, once again, is focusing on snotty teens. Yes, Kirsty was the heroine of the first film, but the meat of the story was about Frank and Julia, not her. So instead of an interesting/flawed adult protagonist, we have two kids who are bored with life for reasons that are never explained, and decide to drive to Mexico (“Tee-KWA-na”, as one of them reminds us about 900 times), leaving their “nowhere town” (seen to be Los Angeles – OK?) behind. For reasons too boring (and confusing) to explain, they get a hold of the box (how it got to Mexico is, you guessed it, unexplained), unleash “Pinhead”, and disappear.
We learn most of this via video footage that the police found and sent to the parents. The parents of both teens (and the sister of one, who was dating the other) have come together for a really awkward dinner party where they talk to each other (read: the audience) about what little they know, and generally just sort of get pissy at each other. Then one of the boys returns out of nowhere (his sister announces “He’s back!” as if he had just been a bit late coming home from basketball practice), and things start to pick up as they try to understand what happened to him and where the other kid went. It’s actually not a bad concept, but director Victor Garcia and his editor can’t ever seem to decide on a perspective to fill in the back story, so the “found footage” type scenes are blended with regular movie footage, and after awhile they abandon the video concept entirely. So instead of using it to slowly unfold a mystery, it comes across more as padding (or pandering, considering how many goddamn found footage movies there are nowadays). The flashbacks come and go with little rhyme or reason, and are oft-repeated; the scene where they first encounter Pinhead is played THREE times in the movie, which prompted me to joke “Maybe it should be called Hellraiser: Rashomon?”, since the “Revelations” subtitle didn’t really make any sense in the movie. We already know everything about Pinhead (né Elliott Spencer), and nothing else concerning the mythology is revealed here.
Luckily, the FX are quite good, and pretty much the only reason to watch the movie – I never tire of seeing people get their skin torn off in these movies. However, it’s a shame that they couldn’t come up with some decent new cenobites to accompany “Pinhead”. We only get two others; a female version of Chatterer, and, I shit you not, a “Sub-Pinhead” of sorts that I swear is just there to make the “real” Pinhead look better by comparison. It’s like “Well I know he’s no Doug Bradley, and we didn’t do a very good job with the design, but look how bad it COULD have been! Now our main Pinhead doesn’t look so bad anymore, right?” Luckily, they keep him to a minimum (if you remove his repeated scenes I’m guessing he’d have 5 minutes of screen-time tops), but that just means spending more time with our awful protagonists, so it’s not exactly a good tradeoff.
At least we know they’ve seen the first movie (I often suspected that wasn’t the case with some of the previous sequels), as the plot of the two kids sort of mirrors Julia and Frank’s from that film, albeit without the love affair (considering Clive Barker often explores homosexuality in his work, I’m surprised they never went there in any of the films). One is skinless and needs the other to bring women back to their place in order to “feast” and become whole again, and since they are in “Tee-KWA-na” this just means a lot of hookers. But since this is an ignorant Dimension production, the hookers are all Asian for some reason, and our lead characters frequently refer to how in Mexico its practically a given that hookers will turn up dead and no one will care because life is so cheap there (Hellraiser: Racism?). Nice.
I could go on and on, but the review is already long enough, and what’s the point? No one involved seemed to really give a shit, and why should they? The film exists to extend their ownership of the property while they work out all the kinks in getting the remake together. But even on that level, I still found it insulting; it takes just as long to hire good actors as it does to hire bad ones, and considering Hellworld was produced in 2002, there should have been a decent script to use floating around somewhere, since they’ve never announced plans to actually STOP making Hellraiser sequels. I can forgive the film’s insular and cheap feel – the original is still the best and that wasn’t exactly a globe trotting adventure with big budget spectacle – but I can’t forgive such cynical laziness. Christ, even the end credits managed to look cheap (I also spotted some mistakes). If they had to make a movie to hold onto the rights, fine – make one, show it to a lawyer, and then burn the negative. But as far as I’m concerned, they don’t DESERVE to hold on to the rights if they are making this sort of trash and asking people to pay for it as if it was a legitimate entry. Hellraiser: Reprehensible?
There it is.
Read BC’s uncut review at Horror Movie A Day!