By 2011 it had been six years since the last Hellraiser film was released. Dimension Films were obligated to get another film done and dusted or they would lose the rights to the franchise. With a rush to get the production completed, Doug Bradley declined to reprise the role as Pinhead, a part he had become synonymous with. The decision was made to recast Pinhead rather than omit him from the movie with Stephen Smith Collins taking over albeit with Fred Tatasciore dubbing his voice over Collins. Hellraiser: Revelations was shown in a single theatre in 2011 were cast and crew attended before being released on DVD later that year. The end product, was not pleasant.
Two young friends, Steven (Nick Eversman) and Nico (Jay Gillespie), run away from home and travel to Mexico. Engaging in debauchery, their antics get out of hand as Nico pushes the boundaries of his pleasure. A vagrant (Daniel Buhran) offers them the opportunity to explore these desires further and presents the Lament Configuration puzzle box. A year later, the boys are missing and their respected families gather for dinner. They discover a video camera that documented the boys’ trip, giving insight to what happened. As they try and piece together the mystery, Steven reappears but not all is as it seems.
To be fair to Revelations, it was based on an original script by Gary J.Tuncliffe, the first since Bloodline. Due to this, Revelations has the essence of a Hellraiser movie, on paper at least. The end result is the expected disaster of what happens when, you make something on the cheap and in a hurry. It looks amateurish and, many ways, like a fan fiction movie. It’s difficult to be too hard on director Victor Garcia when he was giving no money or time to make a decent movie. It is what is in that regard – a sequel that exists as a contractual obligation not intended for public viewing.
There are some interesting ideas at play, Tuncliffe’s script has potential however one feels that this is a plot that would have worked great as a short. As a feature, it doesn’t have enough substance to justify its runtime. The found footage elements of the story are hinted at and despite the genre rarely being executed well, it is more interesting than what is on offer. A found footage movie would have also been much cheaper to produce, one wonders if the idea was ever voiced in pre-production, if there was even time to brainstorm.
It’s difficult not to compare Collins to Bradley and he appears so horribly miscast. He’s neither frightening nor commanding, all the grandeur and authority of the Hell Priest’s dominating seduction reduced to a lecherous demon that slinks in the shadows. Tatasciore, a talented voice actor, lends no weight to the character either.
The special effects are pretty good and it does have an okay twist. Eversman turns in a respectable performance with him and Gillespie looking to have fun in the role. It isn’t even the worst of the sequels but that doesn’t make this a good movie. Revelations is never going to win over any sceptics. It most likely has a cult following amongst hardcore fans, I imagine mostly due to people expecting it to have been worse. It is slightly better on second viewing as the shock factor of the initial watching has subsided. Hellraiser deserves better than to be cobbled together like a discount Cenobite. With Dimension films having renewed the rights, it was clear this wouldn’t be the last outing either.