Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)
Release Date: October 18th, 2011 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Victor Garcia Actors: Nick Eversman, Jay Gillespie, Tracey Fairaway, Steven Brand, Stephan Smith Collins, Sanny van Heteren, Jolene Andersen
ico Bradley (Jay Gillespie) and Steven Craven (Nick Eversman) head into Mexico with the intentions of either finding a prostitute or a donkey show – but their very stereotypical fantasy ends in a nightmare when their car is stolen and the hooker Nico picks up is found butchered in a bar bathroom the following morning. Hoping to blend in with strip club patrons to avoid police suspicions, the duo sips drinks nervously and ponders the murder rates in the area. When a vagrant (Daniel Buran, who is far too young to match the previous guardian roles) propositions them with the iconic puzzle box, Nico unleashes a particularly unique brand of demon: Pinhead (Stephan Smith Collins), who experiments with the limits of pleasure and pain in a somewhat interdimensional realm filled with glowing lights, shackles and chains, and mutilative tortures.
It all starts with a handheld camera documenting the two teen partiers, frightfully forewarning of a possible found footage project. Indeed, after the boys disappear, Steven’s mother Sarah (Devon Sorvari) watches the recorder, languishing over the mysterious loss of her son. But aside from an overactive cinematographer (with frequently jerky movements), the entire opening sequence is rather amusingly assembled, mixing clips of the camcorder with detailed flashbacks of the more elaborate happenings. The film proceeds to show two streams of events: the hellish experiences with the cenobites, and Emma Craven (Tracey Fairaway) doing a bit of sleuthing a year later, after the police are unable to solve the case of the suspected runaways.
Eventually, the past catches up to the present, with Emma’s tinkering resulting in Steven getting transported to his parents’ luxurious vacation home. From here, the premise begins to resemble a home invasion thriller (something along the lines of “Funny Games” or “The Purge”), with the Bradleys and the Cravens locking up the doors and windows and arming themselves with guns, only to be attacked from within. But as the story unfolds, it’s evident that too many ideas are wound into this rushed production, overstuffed with fractured, unoriginal attempts to redo the basic concepts from the very first episode.
The acting isn’t terrible (though certainly overdramatic at times), except for Collins, who can’t come close to either looking like his predecessor (Doug Bradley) or speaking like him. The dialogue and themes (except for the parental rebellion) are fitting as well, but it’s routinely difficult to get past Pinhead’s transformation – even though quick cuts and obscured imagery try to hide the inconsistencies. Despite the low budget and straight-to-video distribution, this ninth chapter of the Hellraiser franchise would have been exponentially more suitable if only Bradley could have been acquired.
The youthful lead characters aren’t convincing in their extreme behaviors (resulting in a comically morbid conclusion), but the tension is consistent and the special makeup effects are more than adequate (face-skinning is the gore of choice). Strangely, several shots are repeated, which further shortens the already speedy 75-minute runtime, while the plot keeps shifting desultorily among various incohesive concepts of reincarnation, revenge, betrayal, and escape. Dimension Films hasn’t kept the reason for this hasty endeavor much of a secret – “Hellraiser: Revelations” was manufactured solely to fulfill a contract obligation to avoid losing the rights to make further entries into the series. So the studio shouldn’t be surprised when there aren’t many fans left to come back for a tenth installment.
– Mike Massie