Shot in 3 weeks to allow the studio to retain the rights, Hellraiser: Revelations is a pretty terrible movie; but not as bad as you might expect, surprisingly. While it does have some terrible acting from it’s three leads, the makeup effects are actually pretty decent. The biggest problem this film has going for it is that Doug Bradley, the original Pinhead, is not in this film. Instead, he’s replaced with the chubby Stephan Collins Smith, who does the best he can in this iconic role. That is not to say that he’s good. He’s a distraction.
Stephen and Nico run off to Tijuana, Mexico to experience life and do the dumb stuff that kids born into privilege can do. While there, a vagrant gives Nico the puzzle box after he kills a chic while banging her in the bathroom. Nico opens the box and the two kids aren’t heard from for a year. The parents of the two kids are having a dinner together when Stephen mysteriously turns up. He is worse for wear; disoriented and disheveled. And he is being hunted by the Cenobites, led by Pinhead.
I can make no claims that this is a good film. In fact, it is a pretty terrible film. Shot on less of a budget than a Syfy Original Movie, it does at least try to stick to the Hellraiser mythology. This is actually the first Hellraiser film to feature a script written as a Hellraiser film since Hellraiser: Bloodlines. The films between Bloodlines and Revelations were scripts adapted to the Hellraiser brand.
As I’ve said earlier, the biggest problem here is the lack of Doug Bradley. Like Robert Englund and his Freddy Krueger, Mr. Bradley had played Pinhead in every Hellraiser film until this one. While Stephan Collins Smith tries his best, he is chubbier than Bradley and just cannot pull the dialogue off. Even under the makeup, it is clear that this is a different guy. He just doesn’t have the presence and confidence and creepiness that Bradley has.
It should go without saying, but the acting of the lead kids is pretty terrible. While the adults do a fairly decent job with their parts, the kids are a travesty. The dialogue isn’t terrible but their delivery of it is. If you can make it through their wooden acting and line delivery, you can make it through this super-short film.
One area that I was surprised at was the makeup effects. For a film of this budget, they were surprisingly well done. I did notice a couple moments where you could see the makeup line on Pinhead’s chin, and the scene where Nico’s mother’s throat is ripped out is pretty bad, but overall I was surprised that the effects weren’t terrible. Plus, they were all practical. No CGI here, not at the budget and time frame this film had.
Another difficulty I had was this film was the lack of a definite time frame. The film flip flops back and forth between Tijuana and the boys and the families finding Stephen. You are never sure about the time frame. Was this a week ago that they were in Mexico? Was it a year ago? It is never clear and that takes some of the tension out of the film because you are trying to figure out when everything is happening or has happened. It is a poor plot device that they tried to use and didn’t nail it.
When all is said and done, this isn’t a good film. It is not as terrible as I was expecting, though. Much like other series of films, the quality of the sequels drops as the series goes on. Is this anywhere near as good as the original Hellraiser? Good god, no. In fact, it is worse than Hellraiser III, my least favorite in the series, up to this point. Is it as terrible as some people would lead you to believe? No. It is watchable with some decent practical special effects.
Sadly, this is not the Hellraiser film we have been waiting for. I cannot recommend this film. While it was not torture to watch it, it just isn’t very good, even though it seems like they tried to stick with the mythology of the first film. That in itself is a plus. If you haven’t seen the first film, though, you will not understand why Nico was brought back from hell with the blood of a hooker.
If you are in the mood for a Hellraiser film, watch the original or sequel Hellraiser II. They are much better films. Much, much better. And have Doug Bradley as Pinhead.
*1/2 out of ****
- Dress Your Xbox Live Avatars As Hellraiser: Revelations Characters (dreadcentral.com)