Steven Craven and Nico Bradley head off on a road trip to Tijuana, but things take a strange turn on their tequila fueled getaway. A mysterious vagrant approaches them in a bar, giving them the infamous puzzle box and promising experiences beyond their wildest imaginations. Nico soon solves the box, but instead of breathtaking pleasure, he only encounters Pinhead; soon the duo vanishes with no evidence left behind but a blood splattered motel room, the box, and a video camera that affords the viewer a rare chance to see a Cenobite without a soul rending experience.
A year later, the Cravens and Bradleys gather for a memorial dinner, still trying to deal with the sudden loss of their sons and gain some closure in their shattered lives. Steven suddenly staggers into the party, traumatized and covered in someone else’s blood. While his arrival brings joy to the Cravens and a ray of hope for the Bradleys, the reality is not going to have a happy ending. The families soon find themselves trapped in their home, with a visitor who isn’t who he claims to be — and wishes to use them in a hellish bargain to save himself.
The improbable success of the film is largely thanks to special effects artist turned writer Gary Tunnicliffe and director Victor Garcia. The script could have easily transformed Gary Tunnicliffe, f/x wizard into Gary Tunnicliffe what the fuck were you thinking? But instead of a hackneyed effort, we’re given a competently written tale with a few twisty surprises to spice the proceedings up. Unlike previous sequels, which began as original scripts only to be shoehorned into the mythos, “Revelations” is written precisely to be a “Hellraiser” sequel that never strays from the established parameters of the earlier films. Victor Garcia, foster parent of “Mirrors 2”, briskly moves things along to their despairing conclusion. The film may run a brief 75 minutes, but it’s devoid of anything extraneous and has no problems quickly cutting to the bloody heart of the matter.
The cast consists of mainly unknowns, with the exception of Steven Brand (“The Scorpion King”), but all perform in admirable fashion. It’d be easy to turn in a half assed effort, considering the miniscule budget, but all seem to at least give it their best shot and come across as believable. The only glaring problem is Steven Smith Collins as Pinhead, who lacks the menacing gravity of his predecessor and looks bloated under all that leather S & M. The Black Prince of Hell has now been replaced by the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man. At least the filmmakers were smart enough to have Fred Tatasciore overdub his lines, so his voice commands the respect his appearance lacks.
Not that “Revelations” isn’t without obvious flaws. It was shot on a $300,000 budget, and sadly it looks it. Try as cinematographer David Armstrong might, no amount of slick camerawork can hide the recycled sets and underfunded production values. Frederick Weidmann’s score adds only slight accentuation to the film, and most of the time you barely notice it’s there. Even worse, the intriguing idea of pseudo-Pinhead, a torment soul who adores his master to the point where he mimics his visage, is sadly consigned to the background.
Despite all this, “Hellraiser: Revelations” is still good, gory fun in the true spirit of the series. While not perfect, it’s a better sequel than what fans have suffered through for the last few years. The film’s been a fanboy punching bag for the past year and is undeserving of all the abuse heaped upon it. Warts and all, it’s a worthy entry and worth checking out.
Víctor García (director) / Gary J. Tunnicliffe (screenplay)
CAST: Steven Brand … Dr. Ross Craven
Nick Eversman … Steven
Stephan Smith Collins … Pinhead
Jolene Andersen … Chatterer
Jay Gillespie … Nico
Adel Marie Ruiz … Anna
Tracey Fairaway … Emma