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Hellraiser Has a Trailer and I, Riley, Am Gay

We have such sights to show you…

Courtesy of Hulu, the long-awaited reboot of the Hellraiser series finally has a trailer, and it looks spectacular.

It’s been a long, long time since we’ve had a good Hellraiser movie, with many sequels (including some of Barker’s own Scarlet Gospels) losing the original’s sewn-in queerness. Hellraiser and Hellbound Heart superfan that I am, it’s easy for me to be disappointed, but with this delightfully eerie trailer, colour me interested.

The Lemarchand Configuration is in new hands, it seems, and a wealthy man—called “Mr. Voigt” in subtitles—appears to be using it and the Cenobites it heralds for his own pleasures: at the expense of others’ pain, of course.

The box, now less Rubik’s Cube and more visibly supernatural, has six faces, and six shapes (including one directly resembling Leviathan from Hellraiser II), all of which appear to have been heavily studied by our protagonist, Riley. Rearrange the shape, it cuts you, it takes your blood, and then the Cenobites come for you.

In a screenshot from the trailer for Hellraiser (2022), we see a notebook with descriptions of the puzzle box’s different formations: Lament “Life”, Lore “Knowledge”, Lauderant “Love”, Liminal “Sensation, Lazarus “Resurrection”, and Leviathan

And what Cenobites they are! From The Masque, with its stretched and steel framed skin, to a brand new Chatterer, naked and bestial, to another creature with black eyes, stretched out shoulders, and a dripping half-jaw, to, of course, the star of the show: Jamie Clayton’s Hell Priest.

Bruckner’s film has been billed as more faithful to the original text, and that’s as clear as can be with the new design of Jamie Clayton’s Hell Priest, drawing from Doug Bradley’s iconic Pinhead in base design, while resonating more with the androgyny and slight playfulness of the novella’s Lead Cenobite. Clayton looks remarkable, terrible and beautiful, sewn and sutured into a work of wretched art, conjuring chains from the aether with charming solemnity, and delivering some of the trailer’s meatiest one-liners. And that voice, THAT VOICE! So resonant and gritty, so delightfully alien and yet still characterful, deliberately at odds with this priest’s more feminine visual design and just perfectly, perfectly queer.

Visually, the trailer showcases gorgeously shot, heavily shadowed settings, Cenobite entrances marked by abnormal shifts in architecture, and an overall eerie tone that puts it at odds with the original’s more pedestrian sequels. This new vision seems to pulse with the baroque and phantasmagorical creative energy that made the originals sing.

A closeup from the Hellraiser trailer shows two scarred pale hands with black fingernails caressing an ornate golden box
While I worry that lines expressing an intent to take victims’ blood and pain, and the trailer’s displays of clearly unwanted torment, might put the Cenobites in a position of outright villainy, rather than their original presentation as neutral models of queerness and sensory brilliance (“demons to some, angels to others”), we’ll have to wait and see.

What’s present now is a remarkable balance between horror and beauty, and one I can’t wait to see in its full gory glory. 

Now tell me, reader, what is it you pray for?

Hellraiser releases exclusively on Hulu on October 7th.

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Written by Riley Wade

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