Have you ever been to a restaurant, and the food and service were soterrible, that you just had to tell everyone you knew so that they wouldn’t make the same mistake you did? How about a mechanic you would never let near the car of anyone who you didn’t want to die in a ball of fiery death? Maybe you’ve known a doctor that you’d sooner die than allow to lay his hands on your friends’ children?
Well, friends, I’ve experienced the film equivalent. I thought that Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and Highlander: The Source were the worst that could be visited to a beloved franchise. I was wrong. Oh, so wrong.
Hellraiser: Revelations was made in about three weeks for the sole purpose of keeping the rights to the Hellraiser franchise in Dimension’s hands. By all indication, the budget of this film was roughly equivalent to what I make in a week- on unemployment. The script that was shot was the unfinished first draft, and oh does it show.
This film clearly lacks an understanding of how found footage works, using found footage techniques to show things such as the cameraman holding the camera and considering deleting the footage. Never mind things such as a drunken, betrayed person continuing to film his friend having sex with the girl he picked up while he’s taking a piss. How many people do you know that can be too drunk to pour a shot, yet still have that kind of focus and coordination?
The closest thing to a likable character is the girl who we see vent her frustrations on everyone around her before being scolded by her “couldn’t give a shit” father for caring only about her self. This is the same girl who makes out with who she believes is her brother because hey, audience likes to see that shit.
For some comparison, in the first two Hellraiser films, whose tone and story Revelations tries desperately to imitate, we see characters making out. Neither time is it supposed to be anything like attractive. Julia is a rather cadaverous character at the best of times, and to see her lusting for Frank in Hellraiser is a sickening sight, showing us the link between sex, impulse, and the terrible acts that these self-serving individuals commit on a whim. In Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Julia is a ghoul, a creature returned from the dead and without any skin, living bloody fingerprints wherever she touches if not covered in bandages, and it is this creature that we see sharing a lustful moment with Dr. Channard, once again surpassing any aesthetic interest and simply showing lust for the moment. These characters aren’t in lust for the hideous physical forms and the flesh amalgamations they’ve become, at least not any more, but they lust for the moment of the kill, for the spirit of the killer. They’ve truly embraced what the cenobites live for, even if they don’t wish to undergo the tortures themselves.
In Hellraiser: Revelations on the other hand, you have Nico seamlessly in Steven’s body, with no deformation or other mark to show that he’s anything less then a moderately attractive young man. He then proceeds to make out with and feel up Steven’s attractive sister (Nico’s girlfriend, whom they both left behind to drive to Mexico and have sex with strange women). There’s nothing remotely creepy about this ssene, unless you find incest to be creepy, which many of us do, but since this is the first time we’ve seen these two characters interact, it’s hard to tell if this is how these two characters normally interact or not. It’s not until after Nico-Steven reaches second base that we get a glimpse of Nico with his skin off, which female protagonist senses for some reason before breaking off the moment.
Another example of where the tone goes horribly, horribly wrong is Pinhead. Doug Bradley turned down this role because apparently what they offered to pay him was closer to what it would cost to take a Polaroid with him and have him sign it than what he actually gets paid to make bad Hellraiser sequels. Thank god for Doug Bradley because even though it made the movie twice as bad as it would have been otherwise, acting in it probably would have done for his career what League of Extraordinary Gentlemen did for Sean Connery’s.
Back to the film at hand, what we have here is makeup that makes it painfully obvious that this is a low budget fan film without the real Doug Bradley (why, oh why did they put not-Pinhead’s face on the DVD cover?). Instead, we have a much less dramatic actor with much less menace or range and a bit of pudge around the middle just to make sure that there’s not a single person left in the audience who’s actually terrified of this character. Actually, I take that back. When I saw that not-Pinhead was in the business of turning hapless supporting characters into other not-Pinheads, I had an inkling of fear that one day, I might be turned into a not-Pinhead and continue to not have a career.
Let’s talk about sequential storytelling. In most stories, there is a single, sequential order to things. Scene A happens before Scene C, which happens after Scene B. In more ambitious movies like Highlander, Scenes A, C, D and F might follow along a linear path, while Scenes B, E and G might follow a separate, yet still linear path. This movie, on the other hand, believes it has the depth to try three separate linear paths. In addition to Paths 1 and 2, there’s a third path, which is actually taken from about halfway through the Mexico path. While this could have been played off as a film that blurs the lines of reality and you don’t know what’s influenced by the Cenobites or isn’t, instead, it saps away all the tension because there’s no question what’s going to happen. And oh, yeah, for that to work, you have to actually care about the characters, something that this film does its damned hardest to prevent.
Hellraiser: Revelations is a film that gives no love or respect to the franchise from which it came, going so far as to plagiarize scenes while at the same time completely robbing them of everything that made the scenes memorable. The studio could have produced a better film by handing the budget to a pair of film students and telling them to make a Hellraiser film than by producing this. The ending has a few decent, in character moments, but by that point, the film is too far gone to care and I would applaud you for simply being enough of a masochist to watch that far in the movie.
- Brian’s ‘Hellraiser: Revelations’ Review (screenphiles.com)
- As Bad As You Thought?: Hellraiser Revelations (houseofgeekery.com)