For those of us who worked through the era of faxes and xeroxes we remember a term called image degradation. Image degradation happens when you fax a copy of a fax or copy a copy of a copy and each copy gets copied or each fax gets faxed untill the document is barely readable. Helraiser Revelations suffers from franchise degradation. the movie, which has all the trappings of what one might expect from a Hellraiser feels like a copy of a copy of a copy… the formula is there, but the original inspiration has been bastardized so many times that its barely recognizable. Barker’s initial vision showed us the depravity of the human soul and the power of obsesion. It was a sexual sadistic social commentary on the human psyche and fetishism. The threat was every bit a human one as it was a supernatural one. It grounded the idea and when Barker’s angels of pain showed themselves, the terror felt palpable and somehow real despite its origins. It was Barker’s introduction as a director and the translation of his own work to celluloid proved a striking and horrific entry into the genre. Its sequels, however, proved to be the very definition of cinematic ”image degradation. After Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, the series became more of a Hellraiser Presents sort of venture, with the cenobites barely bookending the central story. By the time Hellworld made its STV debut the central stories had so little to do with the original mythology that they barely bore the Hellraiser stamp. Revelations seeks to return the franchise back to its roots…unfortunately, it comes across as a reinvention, and one that seems to pay homage to a copy of a copy of the original, missing its mark by a mile. The story centers on two young men, bored with school, suburbia and everyday life, who decide to take holiday in search of excitement and adventure to relieve their simultaneous case of the doldrums. This is the film’s first mistake. Horror enthusiasts, the fans that actually sustain the economic longevity of films through rentals and sell through, remember when horror films were made with actors of all ages, not just post-pubescent teens. We understand that studios are trying to appeal to a VERY specific demographic. Unfortunately these same studios are often so out of touch with their core audience that they will sacrifice years of healthy receipts for a strong opening weekend or VOD release date. Hellraiser Revelations is a prime example of a studio with a franchise that is adored by hardcore fans, yet the persistence of the studio to appeal to a younger audience has bastardized the storyline almost beyond repair. Hence the new entry follows a pair of late teens/ twenty somethings sharing their vapid adventures with an audience that will find it next to impossible to connect with the leads. This is the first mistake’s legacy throughout the duration of the film. You simply don’t and almost CANNOT care for the central characters. We are given so very little development to two characters whose well being is so beyond the scope of our compassion that we cease to care about what happens to them, let alone the equally annoying peripheral characters. **SPOILERS** Like most ill guided forays into genre screenwriting, it is the characters that make or break the tale. This might be the perfect opportunity to reintroduce another lost but still relevant term: YUPPIES. Thats exactly what the entire cast of this film portrays, yuppies. Each and every character represents the very element of our society that has taken their privaleges and used their position to suck the very life out of the middle class (note to filmmakers: a big portion of the horror going audience are hard working blue collar Americans… Americans who might find it very difficult to identify with Revelations’ cast.) SOOO, we have two yuppie teens who decide that their lifestyle (albeit relaxed, pampered and full of hope and promise through ample amounts of mommy and daddy’s money) is just too unbearable and to alieve the pressures of ..aw hell let’s just make something up here.. umm… growing pains… sure… take off to distant shores in hope of finding themselves. They run into trouble and before they can be whisked back to suburbia they find themselves in a whole other world entirely. The boys’ problems follow them back to the good ole US of A and they disappear. Leaving only a videotape with a very different and portly looking Pinhead on it as to what ill fate might have befell them, the boy’s families frantically search for answers. THIS is actually the bulk of the film. The boys’ misadventures are told through flashbacks of the videos left on the camera and we are left to spend more time with their families, who are equally uninteresting. Revelations tries to insert the core of what made the first film great, but it has absolutely no idea how to go about it and in the end, the only semblance of hell it manages to conjure up… is a little steam, as in “steaming pile”. AVOID.
Hellraiser: Revelations is available on DVD and Bluray disc at all major retailers and also available on VOD in select areas.