Hellraiser Reviews Are Here, See What Critics Are Saying About The Hulu Horror Reboot

Pinhead may be one of the horror genre’s most recognizable icons, but fans of the original Hellraiser movie should prepare for something completely different when the reimagining becomes available October 7 for viewers with a Hulu subscription. From what we know about Hellraiser, not only has the plot been changed up, with the Cenobites being summoned in a different way than the 1987 classic, but Jamie Clayton is making history as the first transgender woman to portray the iconic character. The actress debuted her sharp look on Instagram in September ahead of the film’s premiere at Fantastic Fest, and early reactions for Hellraiser indicates the new Pinhead is “perfect.”

Now, with the release just days away, critics’ full reviews are out to give audiences an idea of whether or not they want to grab the microwave popcorn and settle in for this new take on an old fright fest. So let’s see what they have to say, starting with CinemaBlend’s review of Hellraiser. Our own Eric Eisenberg rates the reboot 4 stars out of 5, saying that director David Bruckner has made a movie that is deeply rooted in the franchise, but still has a fresh story to tell.

David Bruckner has crafted a new chapter that plays by the rules of the canon and pairs them with an exciting, well-structured story that allows the movie to provide fans with what they are looking and hoping for from it.

Sarah Musnicky of Nightmarish Conjurings is impressed with the updates made to Clive Barker’s original concept. While the reboot features less sex, its exploration of addiction is intriguing, and it works. Odessa A’zion makes the role of Riley relatable, and this critic wishes she could catch the movie on the big screen:

Beautiful. Visceral. Uneasy. Cruel. So many words can be used to describe this new take on HELLRAISER (2022). Its grasp of addiction in its various forms is well-done, and the team is unafraid to explore the multi-faceted complexities and ugliness that can erupt in recovery. There could have been a slight push to add more blood, more sex, the things that originally drew viewers into the realm of the Hellraiser franchise. But, as it stands now, the balance between the more perverse and finding stability in HELLRAISER (2022) suits the tone of what’s delivered here.

Katie Rife of Polygon says while director David Bruckner takes liberties with the source material, he stays loyal to the OG story’s spirit, and in a franchise where the multiple sequels have been hit or miss, the critic thinks this movie ranks near the top: 

Hellraiser 2022 easily clears the admittedly low bar of being one of the best Hellraiser movies. It’s the best one since Hellbound: Hellraiser II, and might even be the second best in the series after that film. It has some great, grotesque visuals, which makes it a real shame that this film isn’t getting a theatrical release. And it accomplishes what many fans (including this one) wanted for the series, which was to pull it out of the creative purgatory where it’s been stuck for a couple of decades now. The only thing to fret about at this point are the points where Barker’s kinky edge has been sanded down for a more sex-averse era, and his enigmatic storytelling scrapped in favor of exposition that’s more legible, but less compelling. Beyond that, the suffering is exquisite.

Matt Donato of IGN agrees with the above assessment that the reimagining treats Clive Barker’s vision with reverence, rating the movie a “Great” 8 out of 10. This critic praises the new Pinhead and calls this “one of the best Hellraiser films since the original”:

Jamie Clayton is the Pinhead a new generation deserves, awash in Bruckner's colder cinematography that stashes redder lighting to signify humanity is where true monsters reside. Hellraiser might be comparatively less grotesque, but a heady calibration of ‘pain or pleasure’ storytelling brings Hellraiser 2022 screaming with glee into a reinvigorated ready-to-franchise configuration. It's cleverly calculated by saving gore for maximum impact and valuing the psychological edginess inherent in Cenobite storytelling, never getting lost in gooier intentions just for masochistic midnighter distractions.

Jude Dry of IndieWire grades the movie a B, saying that while David Bruckner’s film is entertaining, it’s been scrubbed of all the “kinky perversion” that attracted many fans to the franchise in the first place. According to the review:

Hellraiser is a 2022 rebirth for the franchise, free of all the sexy subversion that got it here in the first place. It’s perfectly entertaining, using Barker’s inventive tropes to tell a solidly gory nightmare, but it’s a pale vanilla shadow of the original. Capably directed by David Bruckner and written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, Hellraiser feels like it came from a team of straight horror guys who know what they’re doing, but still entirely missed the point. Either that, or they were stymied by the Hulu (AKA Disney) of it all.

Does this sound like a movie you need to make a part of your Halloween horror viewing? If so, you don’t have long to wait. Hellraiser will be released on Hulu on Friday, October 7. 

In the meantime, be sure to check out CinemaBlend’s interviews with Jamie Clayton and other stars from the reimagining, and see what else is in store this fall and beyond with our list of upcoming horror movies. While this one won’t see a theatrical release, you can take a look at our 2022 Movie Release Schedule to see what is coming soon and start planning your next movie outing.

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.