What the Hell Were They Thinking?!

How many sequels does it take for these dumb asses to quit messing with the box?! Steven Brand, Nick Eversman and Stephan Smith Collins star in Hellraiser: Revelations.

hellraiser-revelationsCast of Characters:
Ross Craven – Steven Brand
Steven Craven – Nick Eversman
Emma Craven – Tracey Fairaway
Peter Bradley – Sebastien Roberts
Sarah Craven – Devon Sorvavi
Kate Bradley – Sanny van Heteren
Nico – Jay Gillespie
Pinhead – Stephan Smith Collins

Director – Victor Garcia
Screenplay – Gary J. Tunnicliffe
Based on characters created by Clive Barker
Producer – Aaron Ockman & Joel Soisson
Rated R for bloody horror violence, grisly images, sexual content and language

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After running away from home, Steven Craven (Nick Eversman) and friend Nico (Jay Gillespie) travel to Mexico where they partake in a days on end’s worth of drunken partying. And then, as Verbal Kint would say, just like that – poof – they’re gone.

Upon receiving his belongings from the Mexican authorities, Steven’s parents, Ross (Steven Brand) and Sarah (Devon Sorvavi), find a videotape made by their boy that has documented both he and Nico’s final moments. What they discover is truly horrifying – all these Pinhead films and these simpleton assholes are still opening that damn puzzle box. Turns out those boys have been messing with something they shouldn’t, and the result is an unleashing of an otherworldly dimension from hell that will surely inflict pain and never-ending suffering on Steven’s family.

As well as an unfortunate continuation of a horror series that should’ve been euthanized like a lame animal a long, long, loooong time ago.

Unlike other horror film franchises that started out great – Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Saw, Paranormal Activity – but didn’t heed the sage advice of quitting while you’re ahead, the Hellraiser series started at bland and progressively got worse and worse and worse from there. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse than tossing Pinhead into space or a video game, Dimension Films comes along and says, “Oh yeah? Watch this!”

Enter Hellraiser: Revelations, an apt subtitle given that like those thousands upon thousands upon tens of thousands of damned souls hurled into the Lake of Fire at the end of the apocalypse, you too will prefer eternal banishment consumed in flames over this utterly pointless addition to the Pinhead dominated franchise.

Sure, ninety minutes as opposed to an eternity of never-ending pain and suffering might seem like the easier choice, but when even just five of those ninety minutes feel like such a tedious slog an eternity is practically a snap of a finger, the choice should be clear.

Revelations is like the eleventh or twelfth or twenty-fourth entry in this series – who the hell really knows? How exactly does a film in a franchise that has taken diminishing returns to new lows get made? Two words, readers – property rights. See, Dimension Films has been dead-set on remaking the original Hellraiser film from 1987, but studios are obligated to release films while holding on to the rights or else they expire. So what does Dimension Films do in order to buy some time? They churn out a quickly produced piece of shit in order to hold onto the rights.

Meanwhile, over at 20th Century Fox, the guys in charge of Fantastic Four are thinking, “Hey! What a brilliant idea!”

Look, it doesn’t bode well for a film when franchise mainstay Doug Bradley refuses to have any part in it. He’s showed up as Pinhead in so many of the franchise’s crappy sequels, you could probably get him to sign on for cab fare and lunch. That said, Bradley could hail this as the second coming of Clive Barker for all I care, and that still wouldn’t change the fact that this is one God awful film. Of course, you’re not gonna mistake me for a Hellraiser fan, so take what I say with a grain of salt. Still, Revelations is such a piss-poorly conceived mess that even a mediocre at best franchise like Hellraiser deserves better. What strengths the series may have had at first – a somewhat intriguing mythology, strong makeup effects, Bradley’s presence – have all been completely abandoned, and all for the sake of contractual obligations.

Here’s what I think may have happened during the brainstorming sessions. Someone had a script centering around the dysfunctional Bradley and Craven families (Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!! Get it??!!!!) and all their ongoing drama, and when the studio bigwigs realized how much it sucked, they went to the trash bin, pulled out all the leftover concepts that weren’t good enough for any of the prior Hellraiser films, and mashed them together. It fails not only as a family drama, but also a horror film, one whose desperation to remain relevant is most obvious in the found footage craze it tries to bandwagon onto in the opening minutes.

Here, Pinhead and all his minions have been pushed to the very back of the franchise they’ve lead for nearly three decades, and for most of the film, we the unfortunate viewers are subject to listening to the Bradley and Craven families (Seriously, what a clever idea!!!!!!!!) bitch and moan about all their hackneyed problems, while the fact that Mama and Papa Craven’s long-lost son Steven is so obviously possessed flies right over everyone else’s heads. I get moping over your son’s disappearance. Any honest to God, loving family would do that. Acting like everything’s normal when the prodigal son returns out of the blue and begins to display behavior that progressively gets weirder and weirder – well, that doesn’t make quite as much sense.

It’s the box, I tell ya. That box will mess you up, man. Just ask Brad Pitt.

“What’s in the box?! What’s in the box??!! WHAT’S IN THE FUCKING BOX????!!!!!!!!

And this time Morgan Freeman isn’t here to help calm you down.

Speaking of demon possession, you know what really helps take care of that? Chicken noodle soup. Yep, turns out, Chicken Soup for the Soul is good for more than just cheap, trite, Oprah approved life advice.

The downside, however, is that demon possession does lead to you wanting to make out and grope your sister. Granted, the boy can always excuse it as him being possessed, but the sister doesn’t put up much of a fight either, so what’s her excuse?

You know what’s worse than a slut? An incestuous slut.

The biggest sin that this film commits, at least to fans of the franchise, is in the way it reduces its star villain to an afterthought. A large part of that problem rests on the shoulders of Stephan Smith Collins, who’s less Bradley’s imposing menace and more Pillsbury Dough Boy if he joined a Satanic BDSM club. Pinhead will never be as memorable of a horror villain as Freddy Krueger, Leatherface, or Michael Myers, but Bradley was able to lend the character enough gravitas to elevate what is on paper a second-rate, albeit slightly interesting, Krueger. Still, one can’t deny the fanbase that Pinhead has, and that’s largely ’cause of what Bradley was able to bring to him in the previous installments. So, in a way, it’s unfair to place the task of filling Bradley’s shoes on Collins, especially when everyone will immediately begin to play the compare and contrast game, much in the same way everyone compared Jackie Earle Haley’s rendition of Freddy to Robert Englund (unlike Collins, Haley’s a far superior acting talent who was let down by a horrible reimaging of Craven’s classic).

It’s clear that those behind the making of this were aware of Collins’s inability to effectively portray Pinhead, which explains why Pinhead’s role is not only reduced, but Collins’s dialogue is also dubbed in by voice-actor Fred Tatasciore. Tatasciore’s clearly noticeable dubbing does give Pinhead a darker presence than Collins would’ve otherwise provided, but the lack of Bradley’s presence is sorely felt throughout the film.

Not that Bradley could’ve saved this giant, steaming turd, ’cause honestly whoever’s playing Pinhead is hardly the sole problem with this crap-fest, but still…

There’s flogging a dead horse and then there’s the Hellraiser series, a franchise that has long overstayed its welcome, yet continues to keep showing up for no reason now other than for the studio to retain its rights. The fact that the script sounds like it was written on napkin during a Saturday night of binge drinking at the local bar, and actors no one has heard of turn in phoned-in performance as if even they are too good for this is clear enough evidence to say that everyone involved was on the same page with the Dimension Films execs. Hellraiser: Revelations has no reason to exist, that is unless you consider making the bad installments before it look good – great – hell, masterful even a good enough reason. That’s just a nicer way of saying this film sucks balls.

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