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Moments From Hulu's Hellraiser That Really Upset Fans The Most

The Cenobites might think they have unlocked the pinnacle of mortal ecstasy — an intersection of pain and pleasure — but from where we're sitting, chains peeling flesh from the body looks about as appealing as a taking a dip in the fiery lakes of you-know-where. "We have such sights to show you," the pinheaded hell priest might say, but just know that the only thing these beings can provide is suffering.

Hulu's reimagining of Clive Barker's "Hellraiser" franchise aims to catapult the nearly four-decades-old franchise forward for a new generation of horror fans. Doug Bradley's iconic take on the horrific Pinhead has now been replaced by actress Jamie Clayton and her sinister approach to the beguiling hell priest. The Cenobites are just as terrifying as ever: Gone are the leather duds, but now, the designs of these monstrosities focus solely on their painful and wincingly grotesque body modifications.

"Hellraiser" is so well-revered among fans, that it's become a staple of the horror genre at large spawning several sequels over the years since the original's release in 1987. Because of the franchise's prominence in cinematic history, fans have plenty to say about the latest incarnation of the film property. Most fans thoroughly enjoyed this fresh take on the interdimensional demons and their bedeviled puzzle box. However, there's still a contingent of fans who were left unsatisfied. Let's dive into some of the elements within the film that irked longstanding "Hellraiser" fans the most. Perhaps, you'll agree with the sentiments shared, or maybe these complaints will have you rolling your eyes. Either way, let's get into it.

The absence of choice

Riley (Odessa A'zion) is thrown into a world of hurt, thanks to the machinations of her newest beau, Trevor (Drew Starkey). Set on getting paid from one of the wealthiest aristocrats in the city, Trevor tricks Riley into gaining possession of the fabled puzzle box we all know as the Lament configuration. The catch, however, is that there are five more configurations beyond the puzzle box's initial phase. Each configuration is unlocked by taking the blood of a sacrificial lamb, so to speak. With each configuration, a blade rapidly emerges from the cube to take the blood of the one holding the cube. This marks the individual for torment to be taken by the Cenobites. However, the film shows that the person solving the puzzle doesn't have to be the sacrifice. As long as they stab "someone" with the blade, the Cenobites will take whoever's blood has been spilled.

This removal of agency for some of the film's major casualties has irritated some longstanding fans. Riley's brother Matt (Brandon Flynn), Serena (Hiam Abbass), Nora (Aoife Hinds), the Chatterer Cenobite (Jason Liles), and Trevor are all victims of the puzzle box. None of them ever touched the box in order to tinker with its puzzles, but instead they were all stabbed accidentally or intentionally and sacrificed. Redditor treesandcigarrettes stated, "You seek an otherworldly pleasure by opening the box, and they (Cenobites) react accordingly. The idea that someone can just trick you to open the box, or even stab you with the box and it's no different to the Cenobites than if you had done it deliberately... That seems at odds with the whole point of Hellraiser's OG themes. Choice is supposed to be important."

Riley accidentally stabbing others with the box

Speaking of removing choice from the victims of the Cenobites, some of these deaths occur simply by pure accident. Eventually, Riley understands the nature of the box she possesses and uses it to stab the Chatterer, and even Trevor in the climactic ending to select sacrifices. But, at the start she unwittingly dooms those around her simply because of her ignorance. Of course, there's a metaphor for addiction at play here. Riley suffers from substance abuse and is attending meetings to help her through her addiction. There's an underlying theme that addiction doesn't only just harm the abuser, but those around them and closest to them.

Regardless, of the film's subtext, some didn't like the idea that Riley just inadvertently caused the death of multiple people including her brother, Matt, and Roland Voight's (Goran Visnjic) former lawyer, Serena Menaker (Hiam Abbas). Redditor Fire_f0xx wrote that they had hoped for an interesting plot about someone's desire to explore pleasure and pain through the supernatural powers of the box; instead, "what we got was an annoying girl haphazardly stabbing people with no desire to open the box," according to this commentator. The original "Hellraiser" movie centered around Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) who attempts to reap the pleasures the box can provide, but is instead doomed to suffering upon opening the box. This film's version of that character is Roland Voight. However, it is true that Riley is thrown into this hellish nightmare not intending for any of it to unfold.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Off-screen deaths

Perhaps one of the franchise's biggest claims to fame is the gore effects the films often employ. Torment and death are the pinnacle of what the Cenobites have to offer, aside from becoming one of them. The movies have always focused on the Cenobites appearing to those who have tampered with forces beyond their understanding and enacting some of the most horrific pains mortals can endure. In fact, when thinking of the franchise, most of us likely envision poor souls being ripped to shreds by chains that emerge from the dark to sink their hooks into flesh. It's a painfully horrifying way to go.

There's really no shortage of that in Hulu's rebooted film. We do witness Nora's nauseating torture and subsequent gory death sequence. We're treated to more of that in the climax of the film when Colin is being tormented by a Cenobite called the Gasp (Selina Lo). He's eventually freed, only for the Gasp to turn her focus on Trevor thanks to Riley's intervention. Even Roland Voight's graphic transformation into a Cenobite is haunting enough. However, some viewers weren't satisfied with the amount of pain and death administered on screen. In fact, some complaints revolve around the fact that two of the film's big sacrifices were kills that were done off-screen entirely. Redditor hulagirlslovetoparty mentioned how they "would've liked to know how the lawyer got iced." Another redditor, Ninneveh, complained that the film "cheaped out on the gore effects to the point of not even showing some of the kills." Matt and Serena were the two sacrifices that viewers didn't get to witness.

The film's contrast is too dark

One complaint that is almost becoming rampant during the modern age of streaming and television is that the content on screen is too dark. No, we're not talking about tonally. There's no doubt that the thematic qualities of this film cater to the dark and sinister; however, the contrast of the camera work itself is rather dark. "Game of Thrones" and even its spin-off "House of the Dragon" have been plagued by cries that certain episodes have been veiled by darkness forcing viewers to turn up the brightness on their TV sets or squint to see what's happening on screen.

One redditor simply commented that the film was "too dark." Another user named tacoskins remarked, "it was so dark in some scenes that I actually turned up my brightness at one point which is something I never do." Meanwhile, redditor daishinjag stated, I'm watching it now on a new OLED TV w Apple TV and it is so dark my gf and I can't even tell what's happening in some scenes. It's absurd." It sounds like we all might need to start adjusting our TV sets as we head further into the era of streaming.

Less practical effects than the original films

Horror filmmaking was at an all-time high during the '80s. Masters of horror like John Carpenter, Wes Craven, and many others created monstrosities to provoke fear and anxiety among audiences worldwide. "Hellraiser" was, of course, one of the many horror classics to come out of that decade. As such, the film employed heavy use of practical effects in an era where CGI animation was just starting to take hold in the industry. The Cenobites and their torturous regime were all created with tangible effects including stop-motion animation for Frank's revived corpse. The grotesque sequences of torture where chains latched on to flesh were all created with skill from artists at work on the set.

Now, most of the visceral effects portrayed on screen are created using CGI animation. Gore and blood and can be animated at a whim far easier and cheaper than expending funds on materials for practical creations. Horror fans have long criticized this shift in the film industry as movie monsters and the horrors they inflict always felt more authentic with the practical effects of a bygone era. Redditor GolgiApparatus1 highlighted this criticism among fans. "My biggest complaint is that I wish they would have leaned more towards practical effects. That's one of the greatest aspects of the original movies, and honestly nothing looks cooler and more realistic than well done practical effects," the redditor remarked. While the chains and gore animations may have been computer animated, the Cenobites' make-up effects are still a beautifully horrific piece of art to be admired with Hulu's reboot.

The Cenobites talked too much

As shadowy interdimensional beings, the Cenobites are wholly mysterious. While longtime fans may know that these beings were once human themselves, their origins elude us causing us to wonder who they once were and how they found themselves as acolytes of the Leviathan God. Their individual forms of torment are all multi-faceted sometimes being direct references to the individuals they once were in life. Part of their mystique is that their presence is ominous and they are beings of few words.

The Hulu reboot of the film saw the Cenobites, namely Pinhead and the Gasp both talking rather frequently. Despite their eerie communications, the frequency at which they speak didn't sit well with some fans. It made them less frightening and slightly more humanizing. Redditor tennisguy153 wrote, "way, way too much talking from the Cenobites. More action and less talking from them." Ultimately, fans wanted more bloodshed from the fabled movie monsters. "Yeah the Cenobites seemed watered down and a lot less creepy to me," redditor Leem16boosted remarked. "I wanted more scenes of the cenobites being sadistic," added redditor BakerCakeMaker. Well, there's always hope for the intensity dial to be cranked up for a possible sequel.

The film's pacing

Hulu's "Hellraiser" establishes a brave new world. The year is now 2022, and the modern landscape envisions the occult specters and their diamond-shaped god a little differently. As such, the film has to establish its newfound lore. The Lament Configuration is but one of the phases of the puzzle box. Each phase represents a different reward offered by the Cenobites and their Leviathan deity. This is a completely new understanding of the famed puzzle box from the films of the past. Getting through all of this information was a bit of a slog for some fans, though. 

First, some watchers felt that Riley's story began a bit slow. The first two major deaths didn't even occur on screen, and fans were left wondering after the first hour of the film whether they were truly going to see any of the horrific carnage the film series is known for. Of course, the latter portion of the film satiated most, but some fans felt the unremarkable intro and mid-section of the film left more to be desired. 

Redditor ADimetrodon said that "the first part of the movie is rough. It's not terrible or anything. Just feels like nothing is happening. Unfortunately, I didn't really care for any of the characters either, so that may be a bit of my problem with the first part of the movie." DBCOOPER888 replied, "Yeah, once they made it to the mansion the movie kicked into gear." Tacoskins stated that the "opening 40 minutes" took their "high expectations and lowered them fairly substantially." All who began to disengage with the film at the beginning, however, noted that third act was stellar. Now that worldbuilding has been established, perhaps, future installments will have more steady pacing throughout.

The running cenobite is out of character

As far as movie monsters go, the Cenobites are slow but calculating. It's like the horror established by Michael Myers of 1978's "Halloween." You never see the masked killer running after his victims. Instead, he walks toward them menacingly with intent. He usually only catches his victims when he does so by surprise. The Cenobites are similar. It'd be an odd site to see Doug Bradley's Pinhead engage in a full-on sprint after a victim. It's really unnecessary given that the demonic figures can summon chains from the darkest corners of any room to hold a victim in place. This tempered stoicism buoys the level of terror the characters exude simply because we know they don't have any sense of urgency. They have all the time in the world, and they know they'll land their mark.

For this reason, one complaint has circulated regarding the Cenobite in the third act of the film who's face is covered. Seemingly blind, it's only after Colin speaks that the creature begins to run after Riley and Colin with its arms flailing in all directions. The sudden change in demeanor is enough to make anyone jump. Though, redditor Turok1134 shared how the moment felt out of character for the horrific demons. "There were times where the movie felt like a generic monster movie rather than something where interdimensional beings that are beyond our understanding toy with humanity, like when the Cenobite that had the skin pulled over its face started chasing Riley," the user remarked. They continued, "That felt like something that shouldn't have been included." It's a minor detail, but one that fans will surely latch on to as they compare the classic films with this latest incarnation.

Riley wasn't always relatable

As a final girl, Riley hits all the hallmark traits. She's thrown into a horror that she never asked for. She attempts to flee her fate, but she ultimately overcomes the obstacles to the best of her ability. In the end, she's a survivor. Living with the Lament Configuration as her chosen prize (essentially survivor's guilt and regret), Riley is a new fixture in the "Hellraiser" franchise. She isn't exactly the prim and proper final girl of past horror films. Reality sets in when we realize she's not perfect. She suffers from addiction and is ultimately a broken human being like so many of us are. Regardless, some fans didn't take too kindly to the tortured leading lady.

Redditor btick12 didn't mince words. "Good lord Riley was insufferable. The constant crying and screaming was just too much." Though, it's hard to imagine that any one of us would've done anything different in the same scenario. But, other redditors seemed to share the same sentiment. UnavilablePod stated, "we got an irritating lead who cries and screams at everyone and forgettable cast of cenobite fodder." Perhaps, some horror fans just prefer the tough-as-nails Ellen Ripleys of the genre, but this film is depicting a woman coming to grips with her own vices amid one tragedy after another. Screaming and crying is rather par for the course.

Voight's strange scheme

While the "Hellraiser" films often highlight their star players, the Cenobites, these are merely creatures bound by their own laws. They're not some ravenous predator actively seeking to harm others or projecting their own greed at the cost of human suffering. They simply do what they do. The real monsters are often other humans like Frank Cotton, Julia, and Dr. Channard in the first two films. Later, the original "Hellraiser" heroine marries a man by the name of Trevor who attempts to trade her life for a quick cash-in. It's these selfish people who ultimately kickstart the horrors that come from the mystical puzzle box.

Hulu's "Hellraiser" reboot is no different. Roland Voight may have all the money in the world, but that's not enough. He wants the gifts promised by the puzzle box. But it turns out to be all a dirty trick. Now, he seeks to undo his gift by once again rallying human sacrifices to bring out the Cenobites. This time, he employs Trevor to bring a group of souls to the box. Trevor becomes Riley's boyfriend, and the rest is history. 

A few fans felt this scheme was nonsensical. Redditor teeedaasu explained, "The dude lived secretly for six years?? Why didn't he just get his lawyer to immediately get more sacrifices to solve the box!?" Another redditor, thecacti, replied by stating, "I don't even see what the point behind the 'heist' was either. I mean if Trevor's in on it, then... just go get it! And then give it to someone. The whole breaking in part just made no sense." But let's be honest, the movie wouldn't have been as fun had the writers took either of those routes, right?

Not enough gore

What would "Hellraiser" be without gory imagery and buckets of blood? The film's basis thrives on physical torture and pain. This can only be achieved through bloodshed. The films often go far beyond that, however, depicting people being ripped to shreds or skinned alive. "Hellraiser," as a franchise, is known for some of the most gut-churning imagery. The reboot certainly had a lot of flesh-pealing, gross-out gore once the intensity ramped up in the mid-section of the film.

But would you believe me if we told you that some people wished for more gore than what we were given? There are some real gore hounds at there in horror fandom. "Could have had more spectacular gore," redditor theandroids remarks. Local_Werewolf_6 replies stating, "this movie also felt more tame with less gore then the older ones if my memory serves." It's a similar gripe to one shared earlier, that some fans felt the movie "cheaped out" by simply having some of the kills performed off-screen. However, if everything was given to us, then nothing would be left up to our own imaginations, now would it? Plus, keeping the melee on Matt to a minimum ensured Riley (and audiences) could possibly envision his life being salvageable in the first place, right?