Hellraiser: release date, reviews, trailer, cast and everything we know about the horror remake

Jamie Clayton in Hellraiser
(Image credit: Spyglass Media Group)

Hellraiser returns to our screens with a reboot-slash-sequel to the popular horror entry. 

Clive Barker's Hellraiser saga is one of the longest-running franchises in horror. Initially adapted and directed by the author himself from his own novella, "The Hellbound Heart," in 1987, Hellraiser quickly became one of the genre's staples. As slashers and serial killers dominated horror, the story of the Cenobites and their merciless exploration of the boundaries of pleasure and pain stood out among the crowd. Pinhead, the central antagonist, became one of the most instantly iconic villains in horror movies and for good reason.

Studios have spent a long time trying to remake or reboot the Hellraiser saga, but all failed. However, this fall, just in time for Halloween, Hulu is reviving the Cenobites with director David Bruckner in the form of the R-rated Hellraiser (the same title as the very first film in the series.) Horror experts and newbies alike should prepare for an all-new descent into hell.

Here is everything we know about the brand-new Hellraiser so far. 

When is the Hellraiser release date?

Hellraiser releases exclusively on Hulu on October 7. No word has yet been given on its international distribution, although it seems likely it will turn up on Disney Plus outside of America, much like other Hulu properties.  

What is the plot of Hellraiser?

According to the synopsis on IMDb, the Hellraiser remake is a "reimagining" of Barker's franchise, focusing on "a young woman [who] must confront the sadistic, supernatural forces behind an enigmatic puzzle-box responsible for her brother's disappearance." That description suggests this won’t be a straight-up remake of the first film or novella, both of which focus on a sadistic man and his lover who kill people to resurrect him while his niece tries to stop both them and the Cenobites.

The Cenobites are the central antagonists of the saga, a series of interdimensional beings who work as guards for The Order of the Gash. They were once human but were transformed into their grotesque, bondage-inspired fetish appearances after opening the puzzle-box they now look after. Cenobites are so removed from their former humanity that they can no longer distinguish between sensations of pleasure and pain. When summoned by humans who open the box, the Cenobites take them, willingly or otherwise, to their home dimension and torture them for eternity.

The first three Hellraiser movies follow a reasonably well-constructed narrative arc, with a heavy focus on both the human Kirsty, whose devious uncle and stepmother helped to usher in the Cenobites, and the lead Cenobite Pinhead. After that, the franchise quickly devolved into more traditional slasher fare that started hastily adapting unrelated scripts into Hellraiser-related stories, all of which greatly weakened the series and moved it further away from its origins. The new Hellraiser seems eager to return to the simplicity of the original tale. 

What is Hellraiser rated?

Hellraiser is rated R for "strong bloody horror violence and gore, language throughout, some sexual content and brief graphic nudity."

Hellraiser reviews — what the critics are saying

What to Watch's Hellraiser review summed up the reboot by saying while the plotting if a bit of a mess, Jamie Clayton's performance as Pinhead and the overall message of the movie make for a pleasurable enough watch.

As for the critical consensus, Hellraiser is "Certified Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes, earning a score of 80% as of October 6.

Hellraiser trailer

After a teaser for the new Hellraiser, an official trailer has been released that gives fans the best look at the reboot to the horror franchise. After giving some background to the puzzle box that unleashes the Cenobites, the trailer treats fans to a first look at the demons from another dimension, including Jamie Clayton's Pinhead. Watch the trailer directly below (as well as the previous teaser):

Who is in the Hellraiser cast?

The uniting force across almost every Hellraiser movie was Doug Bradley, who played Pinhead. This time around, the character is being played by Jamie Clayton, who you may recognize from Netflix’s Sense8 and Showtime's The L Word: Generation Q

Clayton is one of the most prominent trans actresses working today and her casting is pretty much perfect for the lead Cenobite. In the novella, the Cenobite (who isn’t actually named Pinhead until the second film) is described as having "the voice of an excited girl," and being, like the other Cenobites, "sexless." The opportunity to reassert Pinhead as a queer character is exciting (Barker’s work is famously very queer-inclusive in a way that mainstream horror wasn’t at the time.)

Starring alongside Clayton is Odessa A'zion as Riley, the heroine looking for her brother. She was most recently seen in the Netflix series Grand Army. Rounding out the cast are Brandon Flynn (13 Reasons Why), Goran Višnjić (Timeless, ER), Drew Starkey (Love, Simon), and Hiam Abbass (Succession). 

Who is the Hellraiser director?

Director David Bruckner is handling this remake of Hellraiser. A horror filmmaker through and through, Bruckner made his solo directorial feature debut in 2017 with The Ritual, an adaptation of Adam Nevill's novel that followed five friends whose hiking trip in Northern Sweden soon goes horribly awry. Prior to that, he co-directed 2007's The Signal with Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry, about a world where people turn murderous via a mysterious signal sent through their electrical devices. He also contributed to the anthology series V/H/S. His critical peak came in 2020 with The Night House, a psychological horror that was nominated for two Critics' Choice Super Awards. 

Jamie Clayton as Pinhead in Hellraiser (2022)

Jamie Clayton as Pinhead in Hellraiser (Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Hellraiser movies

The Hellraiser franchise rivals Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween in terms of longevity. Indeed, it was the success of the most recent Halloween reboot, directed by David Gordon Green, that has been cited as a reason Hulu greenlit and eleventh Hellraiser film. 

Four of the previous movies earned theatrical releases, with the next six going straight-to-video. There are also comic book adaptations and tie-in novels. A TV series adaptation from HBO and David Gordon Green is in the works, with Clive Barker on board as an executive producer. 

Here is the slate of Hellraiser movies are where to watch them:

  • Hellraiser (1987) — watch on Prime Video and Tubi in the US; Shudder in the UK  
  • Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) — watch on Prime Video, Tubi and The Roku Channel in the US; Shudder in the UK
  • Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992) — watch via Cinemax channel on Prime Video in US; Virgin TV Go in the UK 
  • Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) — watch via Cinemax channel on Prime Video in US; not presently available in the UK
  • Hellraiser: Inferno (2000) — watch via Cinemax channel on Prime Video in US; available through digital on-demand in UK
  • Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002) — watch via Cinemax channel on Prime Video in US; available through digital on-demand in UK 
  • Hellraiser: Deader (2005) — watch via Cinemax channel on Prime Video in US; available through digital on-demand in UK
  • Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005) — watch via Cinemax channel on Prime Video in US; available through digital on-demand in UK
  • Hellraiser: Revelations (2011) — watch on Tubi, Vudu, Pluto TV in the US; Virgin TV Go in the UK
  • Hellraiser: Judgment (2018) — watch on Tubi, Vudu, Pluto TV in the US; Virgin TV Go in the UK
Kayleigh Donaldson

Kayleigh is a pop culture writer and critic based in Dundee, Scotland. Her work can be found on Pajiba, IGN, Uproxx, RogerEbert.com, SlashFilm, and WhatToWatch, among other places. She's also the creator of the newsletter The Gossip Reading Club.