Why The New Hellraiser Is A Reboot Instead Of A Sequel

Hellraiser 2022 director David Bruckner explains why the movie had to be a reboot instead of a sequel. Clive Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart first became a movie back in 1987, with Barker himself in the director’s chair. The film went on to become a horror classic that spawned a long series of sequels.

That long series of sequels unfortunately turned out to be a very mixed bag quality-wise in the eyes of most critics and fans. But now Hellraiser is getting a fresh start thanks to director Bruckner and his Hulu-released reboot. The biggest change being introduced in Hellraiser 2022 is obviously the presence of a new actor in the role of iconic horror villain Pinhead. Doug Bradley of course played Pinhead in the original film and most of its sequels, but he’s been replaced for the reboot by Jamie Clayton.


Related: Every Cenobite in the Hellraiser Movies

Rebooting the Hellraiser franchise and recasting Pinhead were indeed bold decisions for Bruckner and company to make. In a new interview with Collider, Bruckner explains why in his mind it was necessary to erase all those sequels from the board and start over with a new take on Barker’s original story. Check out his remarks in the space below:

I think that it was difficult to sort of trace it as canon in any sort of strict regard. And I feel like there's such a spirit of invention in the original film that, to me, sticking in some very strict way to the events that had been played out across many many sequels was honestly less in the spirit of the original, which was this bold vision of something new that wasn't afraid of where it would go. And then I've also always been a fan of, I mean, how do we regard our IP? I like a little bit of what DC has done over the years where every few years somebody gives you a different take on a popular character and you go, “I didn't know I was down for an emo Batman detective until Matt Reeves showed it to us.” And there's a piece of me that goes “What if this is Batman?” And you play that game for a period of time. And this will not be the last Hellraiser movie but this is our Hellraiser movie, and this was the direction we were most inspired to take it.

Why Rebooting Hellraiser Made More Sense Than Doing Yet Another Sequel

Pinhead in Hellraiser

As beloved as the first Hellraiser is among horror fans, the franchise overall is not held in high regard by those who revel in Barker’s original gruesome and kinky vision. Indeed, a quick glance at the Rotten Tomatoes scores for the series paint a grim picture of diminishing artistic returns. While the original film holds a solid score of 70% among critics, none of the sequels manages to rise above 50%, and three of them sit at an ignominious 0%.

Those scores alone demonstrate how dead-in-the-water the Hellraiser series had become by the time of 2018’s Hellraiser: Judgment, a direct-to-video dud. But Hellraiser 2022 can now clear away all those accumulated sequels and their bad ideas and go back to Barker’s source material. The hope of course is that by returning to the original Hellbound Heart story, the new movie can tap into some of the inspiration that made 1987’s first Hellraiser feel like such a bold and shocking statement of a horror film. Not bringing back Bradley as Pinhead also gives the film a chance to re-imagine the character for a new time and audience, though trailers have shown that Clayton’s Pinhead is visually very similar to the classic design of the character.

It remains to be seen of course if fans embrace this new take on Pinhead and Hellraiser. But Bruckner and company at least have given themselves the space to get back to what made the first movie good, without having to deal with all the lore and other baggage that was heaped upon the series through all those mostly-terrible sequels. And if Hellraiser 2022 succeeds in its efforts, perhaps it will launch a new series that doesn’t go downhill quite as fast or as far as the old one.