The 1986 book The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker served as the basis for the intricate, thought-provoking mythology that inspired the Hellraiser films, which have never been your typical horror movies. David Bruckner’s reboot, which is now on Hulu, has an ending that will make some viewers scratch their heads, hopefully without pins.
Has Riley, the protagonist of Odessa A’Zion, truly damned her brother to hell and herself to an eternity of regret? And what exactly happened to Voight, the villain flayed by Goran Visnjic? We’re here to simplify things.
Let’s start with Voight. At the film’s conclusion, Visnjic’s character receives the gift of “power” as a huge chain slams through his torso and lifts him from his home to the sky, played by Cenobite “Pinhead” Jamie Clayton (or, more likely, the hells).
“Perhaps we were wrong about you,” Pinhead intones. “You’ve never sought sensation. Your whole life, every conquest, all your pleasures lie in power… For your efforts, we offer the Leviathan Configuration… Our power lies in dominance, in the sovereignty of anguish and now it will be yours to wield… Oh, yes, we have such sights to show you.”
Next, while staring at what looks to be a supernatural entity, a nude and hairless Voight is flayed and has pins put into his body.
Pinhead and his fellow pain-loving creatures were created by a god known as the Leviathan, according to Hellraiser legend.Voight’s change is probably the result of this deity, and it’s also possible that they are remaking him into a Cenobite.
This hypothesis is supported by the information that Voight’s skin has become his new attire as well as the fact that Pinhead and his gang are the ones with “power.” The Cenobites wear leather gear in Barker’s franchise-launching 1987 film Hellraiser, a fashion choice that was motivated by the writer-director’s excursions to S&M clubs.
In the most recent Hellraiser, however, these superhuman beings are covered by the skin of their own tortured bodies.
“The black leather [was] a direct BDSM reference,” says Bruckner of the original Hellraiser. “Our attitudes to that have changed over the years. That conversation’s pretty above board now and it’s far more acceptable. It’s hardly the kind of transgressive underbelly that it might have been in ’87 if you’re trying to scare suburbanites out of their socks. It felt like what to me was in the spirit of Hellraiser was a degree of invention and a commitment to showing them something that they haven’t quite seen before. We had this idea of, what is leather, if not a simulacra of skin and flesh? What if the flesh was so tailored? What if you took body mod out of a particular earthly subculture and pushed it in ways that we’ve never seen before? Could you reference the originals but show us something that was wholly fresh and disturbing? So, in a lot of ways, the Cenobites, they are their own leather. Once we landed on that, we just thought, there’s a path forward here, there’s something really really interesting here. When I showed Clive the designs he said it was a welcome departure and got behind it completely.”
It’s simpler to understand Riley’s choice to abandon Brandon Flynn’s unfortunate Matt to rot in hell. By this time, A’Zion’s character is aware that while Pinhead and the other Cenobites may appear to be telling the truth, they are actually liars who will cause trouble if they receive any gifts. However, the impulsive Riley is obviously conflicted by her choice, which—combined with Voight’s transformation—seems to set up a sequel. If viewers enjoy Hellraiser 2022, Bruckner is undoubtedly excited about the idea of developing a sequel.
“Look, should the fans and the movie gods allow, I would love that idea,” says the filmmaker. “Hellraiser is a unique challenge for a group of filmmakers because, you know, it could be a guy in a mask, but it’s not, it’s inter-dimensional demons that shoot chains at you from an endless labyrinth. It’s complicated and not just conceptually but also logistically. I feel like I speak for our whole team, and this is everything, the SFX, the VFX, the production design, we learned a lot on this and I think it certainly is tempting coming out of it to think we’d have an amazing grip on it going forward, should there be an energy and an appetite for it.”