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  • Writer's pictureSteve

Hellraiser (2022)

I see you have flesh. I like flesh.

Okay, so we've had a couple of days off and now it's time to get back to Spooktober with this hiding to nothing remake (oops, re-telling) of the original Hellraiser. You will get an idea immediately of my overall thoughts on the thing when I tell you it loses a star immediately, just because Doug Bradley isn't in it

Purist then? You say. Absolutely. Now go on, impress me, if you can, I say, not holding my breath.

Considering these two films are in the same Universe, albeit separated by three and a half decades, the presence and feel of this just reminds everyone who was around at the time of the first iteration, just how special Hellraiser was back then, what a bare-toothed, out-of-left-field independent, shrieking nightmare it knew it was going to be. And how we loved it. I was already a firm fan of Clive Barker by the time 1987 rolled around, devouring his work almost the minute it appeared, so I was already familiar with where this intended to go. And didn't the 1987 version do exactly what I hoped it would. It felt like an old friend had turned up unannounced for dinner, with wine, curious slabs of fresh, bloody meat and his own sickbags.

1987 was a dirty, grubby, nasty and spiteful affair. It was the stuff of sleepless nights and nervous ticks. It spoke directly to the soul and its depravity, its lust and its glory in the obscene. It was pungently foul and wantonly lurid and it knew you better than you ever cared to admit.

This 2022 stab at telling it all over again had boots to fill like few others, so needed to be sure of its footing before taking a step out of the endless and despairing labyrinthian darkness of Barker's subconscious from which it sprang. To be fair to it, this was not the abject and utter failure I imagined it would be. Classic it isn't, not by the standards of the terror from which it spawned, but credible enough to not become an object of parody or figure of fun.

"Save your breath for screaming."

A modern day re-imagining of a moment of horror genius was always going to be divisive and this 'It Follows' approach to creating the next victim and bargaining for your soul is both new and effective, if not altogether original. The Cenobites are new and inventive in some cases and warmly familiar in others, in a wordless, voiceless scream kind of way, at least. I was engaged and enjoyed almost all of it as a new generation is introduced to the pleasure and the pain of succumbing both to your hearts desire and your most disturbed understanding of regret and suffering.

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