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Watching the original “Hellraiser” still feels like happening upon a profane, if by now familiar, event. In that movie, Barker introduces readers to the Cenobites, a race of God-like sadists who threaten their human victims with sensual experiences far beyond their (or our) tired understanding of pleasure and pain.
The cleverest additions to the “Hellraiser” canon will only be apparent to established fans since the makers of the latest movie awkwardly graft a sometimes-inspired monster movie onto the back of a trauma-focused character study. Riley (Odessa A’zion), a grieving former addict, runs into the Cenobites while chasing after her missing brother Matt
Director David Bruckner (“The Night House,” “The Ritual”) and co-writers Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski’s devoted retread does not, however, meaningfully connect the Cenobites with Riley or her character-defining certainty that she’s the target of forces that are well beyond her control.
She’s right, of course, and so is Matt, who disappears soon after he and Riley have a bad falling out. They argue about Riley’s erratic behavior, which really means her relationship with cavalier Trevor, who drinks around Riley despite her being participation in a 12-step program.
Neither Trevor nor Matt’s relationship with Riley develops much over time (it’s 121 minutes long, people), since so much of the plot concerns the arrival and eventual disappearance of the Cenobites. They chase after Riley because she steals and accidentally unlocks a gilded puzzle box.
But Riley only steals the box, which horror fans will instantly recognize as a way of summoning the Cenobites, because Trevor encourages her. Riley also only further entrenches herself into the Cenobites’ story—which connects the box with its previous owner, the elusive rich guy bohemian Mr. Voight (Goran Visnjic)—in the vain hope that mastering the box will bring Matt back to her.
That general lack of personality wouldn’t be so bad if there wasn’t so much dead air throughout—seriously, one hundred and twenty-one—which mainly gives viewers time to wonder who exactly these new Cenobites are and why their opaque personalities now have all of the charm of well-restored hand-me-downs.