Excitement for ‘Hellraiser’ ratchets up as fans celebrate the reboot going old school

Hellraiser Jamie Clayton
Image via Hulu

The build-up to Hulu’s new Hellraiser movie has been like trying to solve one of the franchise’s famous puzzle boxes. As its release nears, excitement is building every day, but as every fan of Clive Barker’s infernal horror knows, there’s often a bit of pain to go with the pleasure.

So, it’s enough to make a Cenobite smile when there’s some reassuring news. That’s come with the confirmation that Hulu’s new adaptation of Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart is comfortably old-school.

Director David Bruckner has confirmed to Hollywood Reporter that the demonic sights in the movie are all practical. 

“Every puzzle box is practical, and every Cenobite is practical. We had a very practical approach to the film that’s in keeping with the franchise, but there was VFX augmentation. There were moments where we leaned into digital, but we tried to be very, very judicious as to when that would happen.”

That will be music to the ears of Hellraiser fans, who were already allowing themselves to get excited about the franchise’s reboot. Brucker’s explanation will chime with fans’ thoughts like the distant bells of the Labyrinth. 

“In horror especially, CGI can really pull you out of the experience.” Bruckner continued. “You really need that extra 10 percent of belief when you’re watching something to really ingest the anxiety and the fear of a particular image. Your lizard brain has to believe, so to speak.”

Practical effects were essential in the Clive Barker-directed original, which also adapted his influential novella. The cenobites were a visceral, physical threat. Some incredible special effects sequences, like the famous attic reanimation and death by a hundred chains at the movie’s end, have been a crucial part of many fans’ horror initiations since.  

Yes, the S&M styling of the original, including the long black leather garments, are out. Still, we now know that whatever design the demonic deity Leviathan has inflicted on his subjects in Hell is pixel-free. From what we’ve seen, the redesigned cenobites, including a gender-free Lead Cenobite more in line with the original novella, have a slicker but more ornately tortuous horror looks.

Bruckner is keen to differentiate the movie from the remarkable ten installments that have preceded it. Gaining fans’ trust with this kind of practical approach is an excellent way to go about it. Hellraiser is likely to be at the top of the list for many horror fans this Halloween, especially now it has been confirmed that the cenobites will have an undeniable presence and the puzzle boxes satisfyingly heavy.

Hellraiser will stream on Hulu from Oct. 7, 2022