Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Hellraiser Repeats An Act Only Ever Featured In Hellraiser III

The image with which even tangentially familiar viewers are most likely to associate the "Hellraiser" franchise is the face of Pinhead, the interdimensional purveyor of pain-as-pleasure that acts as either neutral interloper or outright villain depending on the film. Doug Bradley plays Pinhead in the first eight "Hellraiser" movies, and has since passed the torch to Jamie Clayton, who portrays the character in Hulu's "Hellraiser," which serves as a franchise reboot.

The Hulu "Hellraiser" movie differs from its filmic predecessors in a number of key respects, beyond just Clayton's casting — whose take on Pinhead Bradley praised. One of the most immediate changes in the new "Hellraiser" is the appearance of its puzzle box, known in prior entries as the Lament Configuration. In each previous film, the puzzle box — which is uniquely capable of summoning Pinhead and other cenobites from an alternate dimension — is almost always cube-shaped throughout. The "Hellraiser" reboot's strange-looking puzzle box, however, automatically changes shape after a victim from whom it draws blood is killed.

While the puzzle box's appearance and functionality are thus far entirely unique to the 2022 edition of "Hellraiser," in one scene it's used in a particular manner only ever featured in the franchise one time prior, in "Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth."

The puzzle box is a weapon for the second time ever in Hellraiser

Near the start of the third act of Hulu's new "Hellraiser" film, Pinhead and her cenobite allies attempt to coerce protagonist Riley (Odessa A'zion) into sacrificing her partner Trevor (Drew Starkey) by stabbing him with the puzzle box as they're trapped behind a gate by a classic cenobite called the Chatterer (Jason Liles). Riley instead decides to stab the Chatterer, and this indeed activates the puzzle box, inducing it to change shape as the Chatterer is destroyed.

While the use of the puzzle box is largely novel, a "Hellraiser" protagonist has stabbed a cenobite with the puzzle box once previously, in "Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth." At that movie's climax, its protagonist Joey (Terry Farrell) faces Pinhead one-on-one. During their fight, Joey manages to activate a mechanism in the puzzle box that produces a sharp spike, which she then stabs into Pinhead, effectively expunging him from the world of the living.

In an interview with The A.V. Club, "Hellraiser" director David Bruckner noted that the numerous prior franchise entries incorporate a bevy of different approaches to the "Hellraiser" formula, so he felt compelled to try something new. While he did indeed produce a largely original take, at least in this one moment, "Hellraiser" calls back to its predecessor in "Hellraiser III" when the puzzle box becomes a weapon in a fight against a cenobite for the second time ever in the decades-old franchise.