Well, we knew it wasn’t likely to be an easy watch, didn’t we?
David Bruckner’s 2022 reboot of the Hellraiser franchise (kickstarted in the 1980s by Clive Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart and Barker’s subsequent movie adaptation) is every bit as dark and gory as you might expect from the film’s title. The ending, of course, is no different.
If you too were left feeling a little winded as the end credits rolled, let’s go back and break it down. What exactly happened in Hellraiser (2022) and what did it all mean?
What happens in Hellraiser (2022)?
Bruckner’s movie is neither an adaptation of Barker’s novel nor a remake of the original movie. It’s a new story altogether, albeit one that features similar concepts to the source materials.
Hellraiser (2022) follows Riley (Odessa A’zion), an addict whose road to recovery is derailed by her relationship with new beau Trevor (Drew Starkey). In an attempt to make some fast money, the pair break into a seemingly abandoned storage container to steal its contents. There, they find a strange (and dangerous) puzzle box previously owned by sadistic millionaire Voight (Goran Visnjic), who has since gone missing.
The big problem? The puzzle box opens a gateway to a hellish dimension populated by very unpleasant creatures called the Cenobites, who derive pleasure from inflicting pain. The puzzle box goes through a number of configurations, and each one requires a new human sacrifice for the Cenobites to take and torture. If Riley makes it to the final configuration, though, these hellish creatures promise her a gift beyond her wildest dreams.
What’s the twist at the end of Hellraiser (2022)?
There are actually a few of them. The first is that Voight, who was presumed dead, is still very much alive.
He’s hiding in the walls of his deteriorating mansion, and he’s been fitted with a hideous contraption that causes him intermittent bursts of extreme pain. The contraption was a “gift” from the Cenobites, when Vogt made it to the final configuration of the puzzle box. Out of a range of options, he picked “sensation”, thinking he’d get to experience pleasures like he’d never felt before. Unfortunately for him, the Cenobites prefer pain to pleasure and have a twisted sense of just desserts.
The second twist is that Trevor, who seemed an unwitting ally of Riley’s the whole time, was actually working for Voight all along. He tricked her into finding the puzzle box. Then, he led her to Voight so she could solve the cursed box’s puzzles, so Voight might trap the Cenobites in his mansion and demand a refund.
What actually happens to Voight?
At the film’s conclusion, Riley realises that the Cenobites’ “gifts” are nothing but a trap. Initially, she wanted “resurrection” so she could bring her brother back from the dead. But when it’s time to claim her prize, she refuses. Then, The Priest (aka Pinhead played by Jamie Clayton) declares Riley has chosen the gift of “lamentation.” This essentially means she’ll have to live with the grim consequences of her actions, which included accidentally leading the Cenobites to her brother.
Voight, however, manages to convince the creatures to trade his “sensation” gift for the “power” option instead. Promptly, he’s pulled up into the sky, where a giant version of the puzzle box awaits him. In the final scene, Voight’s body is ripped and torn into new shapes so that he resembles a Cenobite himself.
Of course, there are many ways that this could be interpreted. Voight’s transformation could be seen as a metaphor for the corrupting nature of power or the cycle that turns victims into persecutors. But in a literal sense, within the lore of Hellraiser, what’s happening is clear enough: We’re being shown the origins of the hellish creatures that plague Riley throughout the film.
The implication is that the Cenobites may once have been human themselves, but that their own encounters with the puzzle box caused them to transform into the nightmares they are today.