Filmed in just 11 days, Hellraiser: Revelations is a difficult movie to discuss. This is a bottom of the barrel first draft sequel made purely to hold onto a once successful series’ rights. Even the cynic in me finds it mean to be too hard on the lazy story, messy performances, and ultimate lack of just about anything.
But the movie was made, thus making it fair game…right?
Quick Plot: Oh great, we start with found footage! There’s a way to cut the budget before it’s even estimated.
Two rich bratty suburban teens travel to Mexico to drink tequila and bang prostitutes in bar bathrooms. Yup, I am TOTALLY on these guys’ side already.
Cut to a Very Bad Things-ish accident that leaves uber male Nico in a bit of a bind. After manslaughter, the natural thing to do is to hit up a strip club (right?) where the pair befriend a mysterious American bum who gives them, out of the kindness of his sadistic heart, Pinhead’s vessel box.
All this action is mixed in with an awkward dinner party thrown by Nico and Steve’s grieving parents, who are completely rich and utterly boring. Steve’s teenage sister Emma is also in attendance to mourn the disappearance of her brother and (ick) boyfriend Nico, of whom her parents seem to care less for than the bottle of wine served with steak.
Oh Hellraiser: Revelations. The odds were stacked against you the minute you started filming against the clock. We know that, and can even forgive a shoddy Scottish accent-hiding actor’s shoddy skills at hiding a Scottish accent and a backlot serving as the country of Mexico. But how difficult could it possibly have been to NOT make your characters filthy rich entitled white brats? Are we supposed to WANT to see them skinned and pinned as Cenobite playthings? Or should we actually feel bad for their terrible tortured fate?
The problem with a film as rushed into production as Revelations is that it doesn’t know. A lot of the (pretty awful) Hellraiser sequels have leaned on having unlikable characters as a way to spread out the audience’s alliance. A date with Pinhead shouldn’t be wished on anyone, but it certainly makes viewers feel better if the victim deserves some form of punishment.
Heck, maybe I’m not giving Revelations enough credit. Perhaps the complete intention of filmmaker Victor Garcia was to get us rooting for Pinhead & Co. to win a few fresh bodies. Then again, if that was the plan all along, shouldn’t we…you know…be rooting for Pinhead? That’s a tricky request when for the first time, the lord of pain’s leather bodysuit is NOT being filled by Doug Bradley.
One can’t really fault unlucky actor Stephan Smith Collins for being a lackluster villain. Pinhead isn’t your run-of-the-mill Jason Voorhees or Michael Meyers. He’s far more akin to Freddy Krueger or Chucky, an iconic horror role made as memorable by the actor underneath the makeup as he is by his own mythology. Plopping another man inside his costume doesn’t feel sacrilegious: it just feels silly.
To make up for it, the script crams in every fad in recent horror cinema. Found footage! Home invasion! Crash test dummy Pinhead 2! Okay, the last one’s new, but not necessarily good. Little is in Hellraiser: Revelations.
But hey, that’s what you get for 11 days of shooting. The film runs a quick 75 minutes, little of which makes complete sense. Unlike the majority of the Hellraiser sequels, however, Revelations DOES actually FEEL like a Hellraiser installment. The story is essentially Frank & Julia retold as two awful teenagers who feel isolated in a dreadful youth-gone-wild straight to IFC original. From a screenwriting-in-11-days standpoint, it makes sense: there’s no time for anything complicated, so why not just copy the most successful plot and rewrite it with younger, prettier (by some definition unfamiliar to me) people? It makes sense. But a sensical plan and ELEVEN DAYS OF SHOOTING still do not a good movie make.
For all its rushed messiness, the actual gore of Revelations is decently done, especially considering it mostly sticks to practical effects over the easier (as any Asylum vet knows) and uglier CGI
It’s hard to point fingers at the cast for inhabiting such miserable people, so I guess I’ll blame the studio for greenlighting an incomplete script filled with awful, ill-defined characters that offer nothing to sympathize with
Being on someone’s private property means that legally, they can blow your brains out and ask questions later
Before killing a prostitute, make sure you can afford her price
‘Cenobite’ now has a definition in your standard household dictionary
The Asian prostitute population in Mexico is surprisingly large
Getting shot in the stomach by a shotgun blast will kill indeed kill you, but it will take a really long time. Possibly enough time to rewrite your will, run a marathon, or rewatch the entire Hellraiser series
There’s a part of me that really wished Hellraiser: Revelations was worse, or at least, awful in a fun way. Alas, the film isn’t incompetent. Given an actual finished screenplay, I imagine director Victor Garcia can probably make a more than decent film. Instead, we’re stuck with a movie that feels embarrassed that it even had to be made.