Initial reactions to the Hellraiser reboot praise it as a worthy addition to the long-running franchise with the most brilliant rendition of Pinhead since the original films. David Bruckner (The Night House) directed the project for Hulu, positioned as a more faithful adaptation of Clive Barker’s novella, The Hellbound Heart. To help achieve that accuracy, Bruckner and his team made a significant change from Barker’s iconic Hellraiser films; Jamie Clayton takes over as the Hell Priest, AKA Pinhead, for the reboot, making her the first live-action female representation of the demonic antagonist.
Doug Bradley, who played Pinhead in the first eight Hellraiser films, is the most prolific iteration of the character. In Barker’s source material, however, the Hell Priest has an androgynous appearance and the voice of a young girl; Clayton is a transgender actor, adding another layer of intrigue to the well-established role. Nevertheless, fans expressed division over Clayton’s casting and the prospect of a Hellraiser reboot. Some took to social media to declare uncertainty over the project, while others were excited about a new entry. Fantastic Fest attendees got a sneak peek of the new Hellraiser before its Hulu premiere on October 7.
The first reactions to Hellraiser praise the reboot’s version of Pinhead while deeming it a worthy entry into the classic horror franchise. Many early viewers on Twitter find the film’s gore, atmosphere, and sensual approach to Hellraiser lore appealing. They also laud Clayton’s Hell Priest as “phenomenal,” “elegant,” and “terrifying.” Check out the reactions below:
The Hellraiser Reboot Is No Cause For Concern
Despite some early reservations about the Hellraiser reboot, the Twitter reactions from horror fans lucky enough to see the advanced screening should please the genre faithful and supporters of Barker’s 1987 film. The author/filmmaker’s original adaptation was notably gruesome, filled with gnarly practical effects, a bleak atmosphere, and an examination of challenging themes mixing pain and pleasure. Bradley’s Pinhead quickly became a horror icon, setting a high bar for Bruckner’s Hellraiser reboot, especially Clayton’s take on the character. However, the reactions seem to put any fears about living up to those standards to rest, describing the new film as appropriately violent and poetic and positioning Clayton as Bradley’s equal within the franchise’s canon.
While reactions from general audiences may still end up mixed, likely thanks to an unwavering appreciation for the original film, the early reviews for Bruckner’s Hellraiser are a relief. Audiences notoriously approach horror movie reboots with extreme apprehension due to a sordid past filled with objectively underwhelming attempts, so seeing the overwhelming love for Hellraiser should satisfy prospective viewers that are still on the fence. Supposing fans accept Clayton’s Hell Priest/Pinhead and relish the horrifying atmosphere, Hellraiser could be the perfect jumping-off point for a fresh set of films that rival – or perhaps surpass – the originals.
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