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Biggest Unanswered Questions In Hulu's Hellraiser

Contains spoilers for "Hellraiser" (2022).

The "Hellraiser" franchise has been an iconic part of horror movie culture since the first movie was released in 1987. Since then the franchise has churned out nine "Hellraiser" sequels, of varying quality, the last of which, "Hellraiser: Judgment" was released in 2018. Now, the franchise is back with an entirely new reboot of the original material.

The new movie, directed by David Bruckner and released on Hulu, tells the story of a young woman named Riley (Odessa A'zion), who is broke and desperate for money. So she decides to help her not-quite boyfriend Trevor (Drew Starkey) break into an old warehouse where he used to work and steal a mysterious but undoubtedly valuable puzzle box.

Of course, things aren't so simple, and soon after attempting to solve the puzzle box, strange and horrifying demons called Cenobites begin to appear to Riley. But what's worse is that they begin to claim the lives of people around her, including her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn). To save him from the Cenobites, she embarks on an investigation to understand and hopefully control the box.

"Hellraiser" (2022) does a good job of explaining the rules surrounding the box and the Cenobites, but it doesn't offer answers to all of the questions that viewers might have. Some of these answers may come in sequels, but others may simply remain shrouded in mystery. Here we've compiled a group of some of our biggest unanswered questions and our attempts to make sense of them.

What is Serena's past?

Serena (Hiam Abbas) is one of the first characters that we meet in the movie as she exchanges what we have to assume is a briefcase full of cash for a box holding the puzzle box. She talks with the man she makes the exchange with briefly about working for a man. We then see her at a party where she lures a young man to meet with her boss: Mr. Voight (Goran Višnjić).

The movie then leaves her in the past, as it picks up years later when Riley has discovered the puzzle box. But in Riley's investigation, she discovers that the warehouse where the puzzle box was housed is in Serena's name and finds her at a nursing home. They scuffle over the box as Serena attempts to keep Riley safe from it, but in that scuffle, Serena is cut, and the Cenobites come to claim her. When they arrive, she apologizes for what she has done and asks for mercy.

This makes us curious what exactly Serena could have done to offend the Cenobites that she feels she must apologize for. It seems that it's almost impossible to escape them, so it can't be that she once before was brought before them and escaped their clutches. Our best guess is that she is apologizing for giving the puzzle box to someone like Mr. Voight, who as we learn doesn't appreciate or understand its power.

How did Mr. Voight discover the box?

The movie's prologue shows Mr. Voight to be very familiar with the puzzle box and how it works. As the young man attempts to solve it, he stands by, and when the young man asks if he wins a prize for solving the box, Voight slyly answers, "I do." So there's no doubt that he knows the rules of the box, but as the movie goes on, we see that he doesn't comprehend what any of the puzzle box's power really means.

The question then is, how did he learn about it to begin with? He has the arrogance of someone who has studied the box, and when Riley discovers his book on the puzzle box, it's clear that he has some significant resources about it, but it's still not clear how Voight discovered the box.

We have a few ideas. One of which is that Serena wasn't just working for Voight when she found and retrieved it, but that she knew about the puzzle box before he did and introduced him to it. Another is that perhaps Voight belongs to a larger organization, and that leads us to our next unanswered question.

Is Mr. Voight connected to a larger organization?

Voight's resources, especially the book filled with information about the Cenobites and the puzzle box that Riley finds in his home, indicate that he must have some significant connections to others who are aware of the box and its powers. But he never says anything about a larger organization in the movie, so it's not exactly clear whether or not Voight is acting alone.

His great fortune, which allows him to create an intricate cage system within his home that he can control using a control pad, certainly also raises some questions about whether he has some funding from a larger group or is in fact just a self-made (or generationally wealthy) millionaire. But perhaps most of all, the party that he holds in the movie's prologue is filled with people, people who don't seem to show any interest when the young man who solves the puzzle box begins to scream for help and cry out in pain.

It makes us think that at least some of the partygoers are aware of what Voight is doing and may also be interested in learning more about the puzzle box. It's certainly not clear from watching the 2022 "Hellraiser," but we have a feeling that there may be a reveal in any potential sequels that Voight wasn't acting alone.

Who or what is the Cenobites' god?

We first learn of the Cenobite's god when Riley discovers the book full of information about the puzzle box. The book says that after completing six steps of the puzzle box, the person who solved the puzzle box will be granted an audience with (a) god. There's also a picture of this god in the book — it's an elongated diamond shape of pure blackness.

In the prologue of the movie, before we see this picture or hear about this entity being referred to as a god, Voight says that he is a "penitent of the Leviathan." And as we know from the previous "Hellraiser" films, "Leviathan" is a god of lust and is also referred to as "Lord of the Labyrinth," but we can't be sure that this mythology will remain the exact same in this new imagining of the series.

What is clear is that this god is not the Abrahamic monotheistic God or any pagan god that humans are familiar with, so we'll have to see if the Leviathan makes a return and offers any further clarity about what it is and what it is capable of in this new series.

Why does the Chatterer accept its fate?

When Riley stabs the Chatterer (one of the Cenobites) with the knife from the puzzle box that claims their life after it's cut them, she and her friends discover that the Cenobites can also be offered up as sacrifices to the box and the other Cenobites. After Riley stabs the Chatterer, he backs away from her and Trevor, whom he was just attacking, raises his hands slightly, and is torn to shreds by chains that Pinhead (Jamie Clayton) controls.

It's somewhat surprising to see one of the Cenobites offer itself up to be destroyed as we see them fight and attack Riley and her friends throughout the movie, so we were left wondering why the Chatterer simply accepts his fate after he is stabbed. Our theory is that any Cenobite marked for death only sees it as the next step on their journey of sensory discovery. We don't know how old the Cenobites are, but they seem to be immortal, so as sensual explorers it makes some sense that they would welcome a change to their sensory experiences.

Why aren't the Cenobites able to get into the house?

Over the course of the movie we see the Cenobites appear from what seems to be thin air, within walls, and the back of a van, so it seems that they can teleport and appear wherever they need to appear to claim the next victim of the puzzle box. And yet towards the end of the movie, we see that the Cenobites are unable to cross through the gates that surround Voight's house.

The movie never offers an answer on why these gates are able to hold back the Cenobites, who seem to otherwise move through whatever spaces they wish. The only thing that we can theorize is that there is some sort of mystical property in the metal that has made the gate, or in its construction itself. We see them held in small spaces by these gates once they enter the house and even see one of them get stuck in the gate. If the puzzle box contains mystical powers, it stands to reason that there are other mystical objects in the world, and perhaps Voight was able to get his hands on some and create the gates that surround his house.

How much did Trevor know?

Late in the movie, it's revealed that Trevor wasn't just curious about the possibly valuable item left in the warehouse and was actually working for Voight the entire time. Voight says that Trevor has created a problem by involving Riley and was supposed to simply feed the puzzle box offerings so that Voight could get his audience with the Cenobites' god Leviathan. This raises questions about how much Trevor actually knows about the puzzle box.

If he knows that the box kills sacrifices who are offered up when the box cuts them and absorbs their blood, it seems possible if not likely that he knew much more than that. But he also seems genuinely horrified by the Cenobites and the violence that they enact on Riley and the others in their group.

Trevor certainly knew more than Riley did when they first took the puzzle box from the warehouse, but he may not have known exactly how horrific the consequences of solving the box were.

Is choosing the Leviathan configuration the only way for a human to become a Cenobite?

In the book that Riley finds at Voight's house, she reads about the six different configurations of the puzzle box and the wishes they grant. Among the configurations, the "Lament" configuration offers life, the "Lazarus" configuration promises resurrection (this is the one that Riley is initially most interested in, as she believes it may allow her to save her brother), and the "Leviathan" configuration offers power.

At the end of the movie, we see Pinhead tell Voight that he was never interested in sensory pleasure, the only thing that has ever brought him joy is power, and Pinhead allows him to change his wish from the "Liminal" configuration, which offers sensation, to the "Leviathan" configuration. We then see Voight pulled into a strange, almost heavenly space, where he is bound to a strange machine and some of his flesh is flayed in a pattern that leaves him looking like a Cenobite.

The question then becomes, is this the only way that humans can become Cenobites? Or are there other possibilities? It's not clear in this movie, but this question may well be answered in any sequels as we see humans continue to learn more about the puzzle box, the Cenobites, and their god Leviathan.

What is the maze around the house when the god appears?

As we noted above, the god of the Cenobites is called "Leviathan," who in the earlier "Hellraiser" series is sometimes referred to as "Lord of the Labyrinth," so it seems that the maze that appears around Voight's house when he demands an audience is this labyrinth. But what is it?

In the previous series, we see this labyrinth in "Hellbound: Hellraiser II," but there the characters travel to this world, and it is explicitly called "ell." The concepts of "heaven" and "hell" seem to be states of mind in the "Hellraiser" universe much more than the Abrahamic myths about these places, so it's most likely that the labyrinth is not the Abrahamic "hell" but rather a world where pain and pleasure are indistinct.

None of this is explained in the 2022 "Hellraiser," though, and because there are some other mythology differences between this movie and the series that began in the 1980s, we can't say for sure that this labyrinth is the same as the one we see in "Hellbound: Hellraiser II."

Are they transported to another world when the god appears?

These questions about what exactly the maze or labyrinth is that surrounds the house when Leviathan begins to appear in "Hellraiser" leads to another question: Is the entirety of the house transported to another world when Leviathan arrives? More specifically, is the house and all the people in it transported to the world called "hell" in the previous series?

Again, the movie doesn't clarify what is happening when Leviathan appears; the world around the house simply changes, and the sky darkens as the diamond-shaped god appears in the sky. We think yes because of the earlier "Hellraiser" movies' depiction of hell, but the only way to find out is if this reboot continues into a series and we learn more about what exactly calling for an audience with Leviathan does to the caller and the world around them.

Were all of the Cenobites once human?

Seeing Voight transformed into a Cenobite at the end of the movie leads us to wonder if, in the new film's mythology, all Cenobites were former humans. We know that in the previous films every Cenobite except for one was previously a human being, but it's once again not clear if this new take on the material will follow in the footsteps of that previous series or create a different mythology for the creation, or should we say transformation, of Cenobites.

We also can't tell whether the transformation into a Cenobite is meant to be a true reward or is a monkey's paw situation, as obviously, the transformation requires huge amounts of physical pain, but the opportunity of working for a god and the possibility of experiencing all sensations as pleasure may mean that the Cenobites do feel as though they have been rewarded.

It's not clear though, and the one movie we have in this reimagining now certainly doesn't make any statements on the origins of the Cenobites or how they might feel about their transformations.

Where do the Cenobites come from?

In this question, we're using "where" as both a question of place and of origin. Throughout the movie we see the Cenobites open mystical portals that allow them to come into contact with humans as well as seemingly draw humans into their world. At one point when Riley first sees them, they seem to simply appear out of nowhere as she's outside at a park. The best answer we have for the question of locationally where the Cenobites come from is from the parallel world to ours that they inhabit and can cross over from using the magic of the puzzle box that calls them.

"Where" they come from in terms of origin we can again answer this question with information from the original series (there, Cenobites are transformed from humans after experiences with the puzzle box, and one is the daughter of Leviathan), but given that this new movie diverges from those films in regards to the rules of the puzzle box, it seems possible that the origins of the Cenobites may be different.

Where did the box come from?

Perhaps a more difficult question to answer than where or how the Cenobites originated is how the puzzle box originated. The "Hellraiser" reboot offers no clues to this question at all. We see Serena retrieve the puzzle box at the start and Voight's book of research on the box and the Cenobites, but we don't get any clues as to the origin of the box.

In the earlier movies, specifically in "Hellraiser: Bloodline," a French toy maker named Phillip Lemarchand (played by Bruce Ramsay) was commissioned to make the puzzle box by an aristocrat (Mickey Cottrell) with an interest in the occult who sought to use the box as a tool for their exploration. That mythology is somewhat different from what's in Clive Barker's original novel "The Hellbound Heart" and the comics that explore the "Hellraiser" mythos, so it seems likely that there may be yet another take on Phillip Lemarchand or even a completely new origin story for the puzzle box in this new "Hellraiser" universe.

How did this all start?

There are no timelines given for how long the Cenobites and Leviathan have been around or explanations for their origin in the new movie, so we can't help but wonder how this all started. As with most gods, our best guess is that Leviathan is eternal and has always existed, but did the Cenobites always exist? Did they exist before the puzzle box? Or was the creation of the puzzle box what allowed Cenobites to enter our world?

These are all questions that fall into the larger question of how this all started. It seems possible that it did indeed all begin, at least for humans, with the creation of the puzzle box that allowed for the creation of a portal for Cenobites to enter our world and take us into theirs — even if they and their god have always existed.

We hope that we'll get more movies in this new version and that these questions can be answered, but it does also seem possible that the origins of Leviathan and the Cenobites will remain a horrifying mystery as they largely have in the previous movies.

Did Riley make the right choice?

After the puzzle box has claimed all of its victims, Riley is allowed her audience with the god and may make a request based on the six different configurations that exist. When she first discovers the different configurations in Voight's book, she says that she wants to complete the puzzle box so that she can request the resurrection of her brother. But the more she interacts with the Cenobites and the more she learns about their "gifts," the more she suspects that this resurrection would not bring back her brother as he once was.

She ultimately then decides that she doesn't want anything from Leviathan and the Cenobites, a decision that Pinhead tells her falls under the option of the "Lament" configuration — she has chosen life, but this life will be filled with regret. And in A'zion's performance, we can see that there may already be some regret in the moments afterward.

Riley probably made the right choice in not choosing to resurrect her brother, and we see that the Liminal and Leviathan configurations come at great pain, but there are other options, including the "Lore" configuration, which promises knowledge. Of course, it's possible that the Lore configuration also comes at a great price, but we don't know, and the possibility of knowing more seems to tug at Riley after she has made her choice, but we can't know for sure.

Will we see Voight again?

Assuming that we get to see more movies in this new imagining of "Hellraiser," one of our main questions is whether or not we will see Voight again after his transformation into a Cenobite. It would be interesting to see how the change affects his character and what kind of Cenobite he becomes, but it's unclear whether or not all the Cenobites are present for every puzzle box sacrifice.

In this new movie, there are some Cenobites who don't appear until much later and others who are present at every sacrifice, so there may be many Cenobites that we haven't seen yet — which begs the question of whether Voight will return or not. Or whether he may even be the focus of a later movie instead of Riley or new human characters. We can't know for sure, but we're hoping that we do get some sequels that answer this and our other questions about this new "Hellraiser."