Horror Movie Review: Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)


Hellraiser: Revelations is the ninth entry into the once great Hellraiser franchise and at least for now appears to be the final movie in the series. After the poor performance of Hellworld and the movies preceding it, it seemed as if nothing could restore any ounce of credibility to the name Hellraiser. In 2011 loyal fans let out a hopeful cheer when it appeared as if Dimension films were on the verge of losing the rights to the franchise once and for all but nobody could have prepared themselves for the depths that they would go to just to keep it. Revelations was produced in a matter of weeks and not surprisingly due to the quick turnaround time, series star Doug Bradley declined to participate, making this the first entry in the series in which he does not play Pinhead.

Doug Bradley is Hellraiser and without him the movie was already doomed before a single scene was shot. I could actually forgive Revelations however if Bradley’s absence had been the only thing wrong with the film but that’s far from the truth.

Best friends Steven Craven and Nico Bradley (I see what they did there) inexplicably run away from home and travel to Mexico. They film themselves engaging in several days’ worth of drunken partying. The boys disappear, and the Mexican authorities ultimately turn over their belongings to their parents, including a videotape made by Steven that apparently documents their final moments.

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A year later, Steven’s family gather for dinner with Nico’s parents, Peter and Kate. Tensions rise when Emma, who had been dating Nico, demands that the families acknowledge the news that a private investigator was unable to turn up any evidence of the boys’ fates. Emma questions her mother about the contents of Steven’s camera, which she has been obsessively watching in private. Later, Emma sneaks into Steven’s room and finds the camera. Watching the video, she finds footage documenting Steven and Nico picking up a girl in a bar. A flashback along with the camera footage shows that Nico casually murdered her while having sex in a stall in the bar’s restroom, and that Nico later blackmailed Steven into continuing on their “vacation” together by threatening to implicate him in the crime.

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Continuing to go through Steven’s things, Emma also finds a gold and black puzzle box visible in the final moments of the video. Playing with it causes Steven to materialize out of thin air, covered in blood that does not appear to be his own. The families prepare to rush him to the hospital, only to discover that all of the vehicles have disappeared from the driveway. Attempting to dial 911, they discover that the land lines and cell phones are receiving interference and no outgoing calls can be made. As they are four miles away from the nearest main road and it is the middle of the night, they decide to wait until morning and then seek help. Steven tells the families that he has escaped “The Cenobites,” a word that Emma defines as members of a monastic community.

Another flashback shows Steven and Nico sitting in a bar when they are approached by a Vagrant who seems to know about the murder of the girl and offers them the puzzle box, telling them that it will expand their horizons of sensual pleasure and allow them to experience physical and psychological states of euphoria inaccessible to most people. When Nico attempts to buy it from him, the Vagrant gives it to him, telling him that the box has “always” been his.

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Eventually Steven comes downstairs, retrieves the shotgun, and after shooting Ross in the stomach holds everyone at gunpoint.

A final flashback reveals that after Nico opened the puzzle box, he accessed the realm of the Cenobites, who offered him the ultimate experience. While Steven fled, Nico agreed, and was taken to the Cenobites’ realm to be subjected to extreme torture and mutilation. Sometime later, Steven’s having rough sex with a prostitute near the box allowing Nico to communicate with him, begging him to kill her. Steven bludgeoned the woman to death with the box, the resultant blood giving Nico enough energy to escape the Cenobite realm as an emaciated, skinless monster.

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Now pursued by the Cenobites, Nico needs more blood to reinvigorate him. In the next moments of the film it is revealed that, Steven hired prostitutes and then murdered them, feeding their blood to Nico; Nico’s body slowly regenerates until all he needs is human skin. When Steven refuses to kill anymore, after Nico kills a woman and her baby, Nico attacks and skins him, putting on Steven’s flesh as a “suit.” As Nico leaves, the dying Steven grabs the puzzle box and summons up the Cenobites; they accept him into their ranks and transform him into a partially skinned creature similar to Pinhead, with nails driven into his skull.

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Now I won’t spoil the final moments of the movie for anyone that’s interested but it’s very predictable and if you’re familiar with other Hellraiser movies then you will certainly be able to guess what happens next. Hellraiser: Revelations isn’t the worst movie ever made but it’s the worst Hellraiser movie by a country mile for so many reasons. Firstly, the found footage seriously sucks and at times scenes involving it don’t make any sense as it transitions rapidly from the poor video quality of the video camera to one of higher quality; it’s as if they couldn’t make up their minds what they wanted it to be. Secondly, the movie is just over an hour in length which obviously isn’t very promising to begin with but why do we have to spend most of the runtime watching so many boring scenes. Thirdly and this is a big one, what were they thinking when they cast another actor to play Pinhead!? Not only is that awful enough but the guy the choose is clearly 5 stone heavier than Doug Bradley, isn’t intimidating in the slightest, gets way too sexually aroused and excited over even the idea of suffering that his facial expressions are just awkward and has a very obvious pair of blow job lips that it’s just hilarious to see but also sad, very very sad.

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What I do give credit to Revelations for is the makeup and gore which is very visceral, dark, bloody and quite impressive considering the limited budget; Steven’s Cenobite makeup is amazing.

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I enjoyed the effect that is used when the box is opening as well; it’s pretty. The story involving Steven and Nico isn’t all that bad but haven’t we seen this somewhere before; I don’t know, how about the first Hellraiser movie!? It’s just ripping off a premise that has been done and was done miles better. There are so many  flaws that I could mention but it’s really not very worthwhile.

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Why are his lips so pouty? Is it just me…

Revelations is an awful Hellraiser movie but with its short run time and impressive gore there is certainly entertainment to be found if you enjoy B horror movies. I have no idea what’s next for the franchise but I just hope it doesn’t involve Dimension Films; they’ve raped this franchise and it’s fans enough.

Hellraiser: Revelations
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