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The Big Way The Puzzle Box Of 2022's Hellraiser Differs From The Original

When it comes to horror reboots, Hulu's "Hellraiser" is the perfect example of a franchise benefiting from a revival. But when viewers check out David Bruckner's take on the Clive Barker classic this Halloween season, many are going to notice some glaring differences between it and the 1987 original — including a totally different puzzle box, aka Lament Configuration.

For Barker's "Hellraiser," Doug Bradley's legendary Pinhead character uses the supernatural box to lure in random victims and bring them into his Hell-like dimension, which serves as a sadomasochistic playground for him and his torture buddies, known as the Cenobites. The box made its first appearance in Barker's 1986 novel "The Hellbound Heart" and was known as the Lemarchand Configuration. It was described as being "brilliantly polished" and constructed in a way that triggered a musical mechanism when opened. When not being toted around by Barker's Hell Priest in the movies, the box typically winds up in the hands of some unsuspecting person. Eventually, they solve it and immediately get shocked by an electric force, which sparks the Cenobites' arrival. Massive hooks and chains are sent into the user's skin and body moments later before an eventual encounter with Pinhead and the others.

In Bruckner's "Hellraiser," which came out on October 7, 2022, the Lament Configuration not only looks different from its evil predecessor, but it also has updated features and a brand new way of capturing its handlers.

Jamie Clayton's puzzle box doesn't spark up like in the original Hellraiser

When people handle the new Lament Configuration belonging to Jamie Clayton's Pinhead, there is a completely different process for abducting victims and bringing them into the Cenobites' torture dimension. Instead of a spark that opens the puzzle box, director David Bruckner decided to put a small, hidden blade into the mysterious device that cuts the user's hand and spills their blood onto it, thus activating the configuration. Also, like in "The Hellbound Heart," the box can be solved and worked into different configurations. According to Bruckner, the prop was created using very little CGI, which makes it even more terrifying when seeing the tiny thing in action.

"We had a very practical approach to the film that's in keeping with the franchise," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "There were moments where we leaned into digital, but we tried to be very, very judicious as to when that would happen. In horror especially, CGI can really pull you out of the experience. 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."

For Bruckner and the writers of Hulu's "Hellraiser," choosing to evolve and update the Lament Configuration from what it was in the original didn't just involve changing how the box looks and operates — it also meant giving the murder toy a more significant meaning.

The Lament Configuration in Hulu's Hellraiser is supposed to resemble 'the extent of human experience'

When it came time for David Bruckner to conjure up some different ideas for his "Hellraiser" story, one of the most important things he wanted to do was expand the legend and mythos of the Lament Configuration. And to do this, the "V/H/S" filmmaker chose to come up with a brand new interpretation for it.

"Specifically, it's the six iterations of the box and how those represent the extent of human experience, which are explored alongside the Cenobites," Bruckner told The Hollywood Reporter. "It created chapter headings throughout the film in a way that really, really made sense for me," the director explained.

In the trailer for Bruckner's "Hellraiser," viewers are treated to a scene showing an excerpt from a notebook, which explains what each side of the puzzle box represents. The words "life, knowledge, love, sensation, and resurrection" are used to describe them. "I thought that was a wonderful expansion of the mythology," Bruckner told The Hollywood Reporter, "and something we hadn't seen before." 

For years, it was believed that the Lament Configuration (or Lemarchand Configuration) was created by a French craftsman and toymaker named Philip LeMarchand, who purposely constructed it to allow interdimensional travel to hell (via Scary Studies). The "Hellraiser" comics from the early 1990s describe LeMarchand as a murdering madman who was commissioned to build the puzzle box by an occultist. According to the comics, a Cenobite known as Baron supposedly cursed the tiny device with black magic and linked it to their realm. Clive Barker, himself, has been asked on numerous occasions whether he'd ever mess with the box if given the chance, and his answer likely won't surprise you. 

"Given the knowledge of what was going to happen? I'd leave it be," he said, speaking to Wired's "The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy" podcast (via Nightmare Magazine). "On the other hand, I do like playing with things if I have enough time, so I could play with it in the dark. We all can, canʼt we?" Barker joked.