This is part of my Horrorathon for Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings (aka MASK). Is It Worth It? is where I talk about sequels a lot of people skip, and determine if they are worth a visit or better left in the bargain bin. Fair warning, there will be spoilers in my recap, so if you just want the verdict skip to the bottom.
From IMDb: Two friends discover a puzzle box in Mexico, which unleashes cenobite Pinhead.
Hellraiser: Revelations is the ninth (!) film in the Hellraiser series. The film was produced in a matter of weeks, due to an obligation on Dimension Films’ part to release another Hellraiser film or risk losing the rights to the film series. A new creative team took over, with writer Gary J. Tunnicliffe and director Víctor García taking the helm. This is also the first Hellraiser to not have Doug Bradley playing Pinhead which really cast a dark shadow over it in addition to the other production issues.
Series creator Clive Barker had this to say regarding the film:
“I want to put on record that the flic out there using the word Hellraiser IS NO FUCKIN’ CHILD OF MINE! I have NOTHING to do with the fuckin’ thing. If they claim its from the mind of Clive Barker, it’s a lie. It’s not even from my butt-hole.”From the butt-hole of Clive Barker would have been some interesting marketing though
We begin with two extremely obnoxious teenage boys filming themselves in a car leaving Los Angeles “for the last time ever” to skip town to Tijuana, Mexico and “get their dicks wet.”
Nico Bradley and Steven Craven (obvious nods to Doug Bradley and Wes Craven respectively) are the two teenage boys. Later, Nico is shown solving the Lament Configuration, and Pinhead comes to claim him. Presumably Steven is brought to the hell dimension too as they both disappear. Steven’s video is returned to his family by Mexican authorities, and though it is confusing footage, they presume the boys were murdered by someone in Mexico.
A year later, their families are having dinner together at the Craven household.
Emma gets fed up at how the parents refuse to talk about what happened to Steven and Nico and how her mother is “always watching that tape.” She storms upstairs and finds the tape in Steven’s belongings. In it, she sees that Nico (her boyfriend) had sex with a Mexican sex worker in a bar bathroom.
Steven passes out and when he wakes up, the sex worker is dead and Nico says “he doesn’t know what happened.” Nico is extremely defensive and just wants to move on. He begins sounding like a Fox News segment warning white people against traveling to Mexico:
Steven goes to delete the video of Nico hooking up with the prostitute, but Nico stops him so he can use it as blackmail as needed.
Emma also finds the Lament Configuration in Steven’s belongings.
She plays with the puzzle box outside the house and manages to open it. Shockingly, Steven comes back as a result! But he is passed out from exhaustion and dehydration.
The families try to call 911, but the landline is disconnected and they don’t get cell phone service in the isolated valley home (…which…I have questions about that property investment but okay…). The closest neighbors are four miles away, and their cars are inexplicably gone. They are fearful that Steven was kidnapped, and that whoever did it might still be outside the house.
Peter asks Ross if he has a gun, and to Sarah’s shock her husband says yes and goes to get it #REVELATIONS
Wait is that a…oh no. There’s a Pinhead Mini Me. I don’t know why this hit me so hard, but when I saw this I knew I was in for a bad time.
As Papa Pinhead drives a nail into his Mini Me, he gives them his own version of the birds and bees talk.
“Birth…is pain. Each nail…each new square of flesh…wrenches you further from the fleshy [SIC] existence you knew before.”Papa Pinhead in Hellraiser: Revelations
Back in the Craven residence, Emma is playing with the puzzle box again. We also see Lil Pin earning his “nailing faces to the wooden pillar” merit badge and a new female Chatterbox Cenobite appraising his work.
After the earthquake, Steven is suddenly standing outside by the pool. He begins vaguebooking his family about a vagrant and Cenobites that “could take the pain away.”
Steven flashbacks to a sad trip to a Mexican stripclub after Nico murdered a woman. A dirty looking man sits by them and gifts them a puzzle box, promising it will take them beyond the limits of sex and even murder.
They acquiese and take the puzzle box which he offers for free, implying the Cenobites want Lil Frank Jr. aka Nico to have it.
The next scene with Nico and Steven is Nico playing with the puzzle box. Nico calls Steven weak when Steven is clearly uncomfortable with how this whole trip has progressed. Nico opens the puzzle box and they ask a reasonable question upon seeing Pinhead.
Pinhead takes Nico.
In the present, Steven tells Nico’s parents that he didn’t want to come back from where he went.
Back in the flashback, Steven picks up a sex worker. He starts to get aggressive during sex as he hears Nico’s voice saying “kill her. I need her blood.” Seemingly possessed, he brains her with the puzzle box, and her blood brings a skinless Nico back.
Nico enlists Steven to bring him more blood like Frank with Julia in the original film.
Back in the present, Steven tells the families that the Cenobites are coming for their flesh before passing out again.
For the first time in one of these movies, a character looks up the dictionary definition of a Cenobite:
Steven has a flashback of the Cenobites tearing his face off that he seems a little too into…starting to grin as he acknowledges the pain and pleasure are indivisible.
Meanwhile, Nico’s father Peter keeps trying to force the puzzle box open but failing. Emma takes the puzzle box from her dead boyfriend’s dad, and starts blatantly hitting on him while his wife and her mom are right behind them (!). This is perhaps insinuating the puzzle box is doing something to her by proximity, because it seems out of character. Her mom clocks this nonsense real quick.
Sarah sends Emma to her brother’s room for an even more cringey flirtation scene. I’m getting serious Amityville II: The Possession flashbacks…
Emma asks him were he went, and he says everywhere. She says she missed him and Nico, and expresses jealousy at these experiences. She also mentions that touching the puzzle box makes her feel something she can’t quite describe.
She pushes him off after coming to her senses WAY TOO LATE, and runs out the room. Meanwhile, Peter is still suspicious of Steven’s mysterious reappearance and implies that Steven may have been the one to sabotage the landline and cars. He also speaks truth to power regarding how many of us currently feel about Trump blatantly threatening the election process in the United States in 2020.
Also I love that the underwritten wives just blow a raspberry and decide to not talk or express an ounce of character development at all when their husbands decide to investigate outside.
Outside, they encounter the dirt-covered man that gave Nico and Steven the puzzle box in Mexico. He appears to be a Cenobite in human form, getting shot by Peter and still managing to attack him and rip off his face. Peter quickly dies from the injury. But more importantly, is not one but two times Ross orders the women back inside and they just listen like “oop! better do what he says and let the menfolk handle it!”
Back inside, Steven has found the gun and shoots his father in the stomach.
He breaks it down for the captive womenfolk and Ross who sits bleeding out on the coach. He was miserable in “this bullshit Generica” (and just to prove I’m not making that word up):
Steven: Anything besides the reality of the same job, fucking the same women, eating the same fucking food day in and day out for the next 50 years.
Ross: It doesn’t have to be that way. You’ll understand when you have children.
Steven: Children! Why? So they can end up as fucked up as me?Hellraiser: Revelations
Steven also points out children didn’t even so well given Ross is bleeding out from being shot by his own son. Ross tells him “this isn’t him”, and I’ll be damned for not catching onto this #REVELATION sooner…Steven is really Nico disguised in Steven’s flesh suit. So that means the Pinhead Mini Me is actually Steven.
We get a flashback to Steven picking up another sex worker to provide blood for Nico to regenerate, but he chickens out from killing her when he hears her child crying in another room. Nico calls Steven weak and kills the sex worker. After Steven runs out in horror, Nico kills her child too.
Later, Nico tells Steven they are going to have a blast but he just needs one more thing…
Although I would be far more entertained if the male sex worker part happened, we all know what comes next. Steven says “I’ve given you the shirt off my back” as he goes to storm out which you know he just said so Nico can reply…
But brace yourself because more #REVELATIONS are on the way!
In the present, Nico reveals that Steven and him knew that Ross (Steven’s dad) was having an affair with Kate (Nico’s mother). He also calls Emma out for being a naughty girl who made out with her brother a few scenes ago.
Nico explains his master plan is to use the puzzle box to summon the Cenobites and trade his soul for Emma’s. But first more 2020 commentary from a Hellraiser movie from 2011:
Nico forces Emma to open the puzzle box and the Cenobites come.
Kate decides to repeatedly ask the Cenobites what happened to her son. After one warning to stop talking, she asks again, and they hook her to death.
Pinhead immediately denies Nico a trade for Emma and goes to take him instead. Pinhead emphasizes that Emma’s twisted little desires will lead her to the puzzle box on her own volition.
But before the Cenobites can take Nico, dumbass Ross shots him to death instead, saying “no one gets to kill you but me you little fuck.” Nico thanks him, and Pinhead calls Ross a fool for denying them their pleasure. He also explains to Ross that the eternal suffering Nico would have been subjected to by the Cenobites would have been the greatest vengeance possible. To ensure the Cenobites get A SOUL out of the deal, Pinhead fridges Ross’s wife Sarah to punish Ross.
Emma is the only one still intact by the end, and sure enough, the final shot implies she will be opening that puzzle box once again.
- Mini Me Pinhead was so rage inducing I almost couldn’t continue.
- On the other hand, Emma was an intriguing character who seemed like a combination of mortal enemies Julia and Kirsty. So despite the terribleness, this movie has its moments.
- This film did Sarah so dirty. Initially, it seemed like she would have a bigger role, but she really just functions as the put upon wife whose unnecessarily brutal death just functions to create man pain.
- While I think Stephan Smith Collins and Fred Tatasciore (the form and voice of Pinhead in this film respectively) try their best, their performance really highlights how much Doug Bradley enriched the character. With just his eyes alone, Bradley conveyed SO much for that character even under all the makeup. I have never appreciated how much someone could add to a franchise villain till watching this after eight previous films of the same person playing the character.
- On that note, I know this film had to be made extremely quickly, but couldn’t someone have taken the time to buy creepy contacts for Pinhead instead of leaving his eyes looking like normal human eyes?
- The footage of Mexico is shot in an odd way – oscillating between found footage and seeing the events shot like a normal film. I’m sure the creative team was excited to insert modern horror tropes into the franchise, but the mix is strange. Especially when Emma is clearly reacting to events that wouldn’t be in the footage Nico and Steven shot (like their argument after Nico kills the first sex worker).
With a dismal 2.7 on IMDb, this is definitely one of the most hated entries in the series. But it bizarrely honors the original more than most the other sequels which have Pinhead acting in increasingly inconsistent ways. To me, this is a bad remake of the first film, with a dynamic similar to Larry, Frank, and Julia/Kirsty at its center with Steven, Nico, and Emma. Perhaps most intriguing is the way Emma functions as a Julia/Kirsty hybrid. So while we wait for the long-gestating remake of Hellraiser…this is probably the best you can do for a remake as opposed to a bizarro sequel. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you really want to see the original Hellraiser remade as a modern teen horror film with soap opera acting. Which could be enjoyable with some adult beverages and friends. I’m not recommending. I’m just stating for the record.