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Why Riley From 2022's Hellraiser Looks So Familiar

"Hellraiser" has finally been unleashed on the world, and by many accounts, the latest chapter in the masochistic Cenobites saga is one of the franchise's best (per Rotten Tomatoes). That's no doubt great news for fans of the "Hellraiser" cinematic universe, even if the bar for the "franchise best" bragging rights has arguably been pretty low for years now. Either way, David Bruckner has summoned such grisly sights for his take on "Hellraiser" to make even longtime Pinhead admirers recoil in fright.

Part harrowing addiction drama and part sadistic, flesh-flaying nightmare, the new film errs a bit closer to Clive Barker's iconic source material than even the beloved original film from 1987. This go-round, the pain-loving Cenobites are summoned by a young woman named Riley, who's likely looking to feed her addiction by stealing and selling the infamous "Hellraiser" puzzle box. Unfortunately, before she moves the box, she unwittingly solves it and calls forth Pinhead (Jamie Clayton) and its grotesquely clad clan of inter-dimensional creeps, with the requisite bloodletting soon following.

Pinhead and their pals will no doubt look familiar to those who've endured the previous 10 offerings in the "Hellraiser" franchise. We're betting, however, more than a few of you will also recognize the actor who plays Riley in the film. Here's where you've seen her before.

Odessa A'zion played a desperate teen in Ladyworld

That actor's name is Odessa A'zion, and she's very much a rising star in Hollywood circles these days. She's also a bit of a showbiz legacy as her mom is, in fact, "Better Things" star Pamela Adlon (via Celebzall). Not surprisingly, one of Odessa's first screen credits came via an appearance on her mother's Emmy-nominated series back in 2016. A'zion followed that one-off gig with a five-episode supporting turn on the hit country music drama "Nashville" in 2017, and the very next year, scored one of her first legit film credits.

Said credit came for A'zion's appearance in the impressive young ensemble for Amanda Kramer's deeply unsettling psychological thriller "Ladyworld." That film follows a group of teenage girls whose birthday party bliss turns into a waking nightmare after an earthquake leaves them trapped inside their friend's home. Cut off from the world and running low on food and water, psyches begin to unravel, social structures begin to crumble, and things soon go sideways in truly unnerving "Lord of the Flies" fashion. Though the film is not without its flaws, it's a terribly effective little mood piece that fronts towering performances from up-and-comers Maya Hawke, Ryan Simpkins, Annalise Basso, and, yes, the scene-stealing Odessa A'zion.   

A'zion helped scare Julie in Let's Scare Julie

Though the no-budget "Ladyworld" doesn't quite qualify as a legit breakout for Odessa A'zion, it's remained a bit of a profile-raising calling card for the actor. And A'zion followed the film with a pair of profile-boosting turns in indie-tinged streaming hits "Love" (Netflix) and "Wayne" (Prime Video). In 2019, however, A'zion was back on the big screen in another ensemble-driven creeper, "Let's Scare Julie." Like "Ladyworld," "Let's Scare Julie" follows a close group of teenage girls engaging in troubling activities. And like "Ladyworld," the film fronts a talented cast of up-and-comers, including "1883" breakout Isabel May and current "Big Sky" star Troy Leigh-Ann Johnson.

The similarities essentially stop there, however, as this go-round, the teens in question choose to terrorize a reclusive neighbor with a sinister prank. Things don't exactly go according to plan, and the girls soon find themselves either being hunted by a killer or the marks of an even bigger prank. That central mystery is captured in bravura fashion via a single, unedited take that dramatically heightens the tension. So too, do the central performances, which wonderfully elevate a script that didn't quite satisfy the critical set (per Rotten Tomatoes). As for Odessa A'zion, she makes a slightly earlier exit than some fans might desire, but she more than makes the most of her screen time as the snarky Madison.

A'zion played a long-departed '80s mean girl in Ghosts

As Odessa A'zion continues to deliver impressive work on screens, big and small, she continues to book intriguing projects on both fronts. As it happens, 2022 is shaping up to be one of her busiest years yet. And though "Hellraiser" is likely her highest-profile gig, it's far from her only screen appearance. In fact, A'zion has already appeared in a couple of indie flicks, including festival hits "Am I Ok?" and "Good Girl Jane." She's also set to front the upcoming creeper "The Inhabitant." 

Still, we're betting far more folks recognize the talented young actor from her lone appearance on CBS' supernatural comedy "Ghosts." The series made its debut in the Fall of 2021 and was already an unexpected hit by the time A'zion was scaring up laughs late in the first season (per Variety). She did so in the show's 17th episode and as the attic-dwelling spirit Stephanie. Stephanie's tale was a touch grislier than many of her spectral pals as the '80s mean girl was cut down by a chainsaw-weilding maniac on the way to her prom, and A'zion hilariously appears in "Ghosts" in full big-haired '80s regalia. Death clearly did little to temper her character's mean girl ways, with A'zion leaning into every barbed comment and caustic glance with a barely-veiled sort of glee. With any luck, she'll get to do it all again in a Season 2 episode.