Starring Steven Brand, Nick Eversman, Jolene Andersen, Sanny Van Heteren, Jay Gillespie, Stephan Smith Collins
Directed by Victor Garcia
There is no amount of suffering Pinhead and his cenobite army could inflict that can compare with the agony of sitting through Hellraiser: Revelations, a desperate final cash-grab made without a single ounce of thought or discernible talent. Not only does this entry make all the other sequels seem great in comparison, you could easily confuse this for some Hellraiser mockbuster from the folks at The Asylum.
Things kick off with a found-footage movie following Nico and Stephen, two college kids who take a trip down to Mexico for some weekend debauchery. Nico plans to drink a lot and cheat on his girlfriend with some local ladies so naturally he brings a camera with him to document the entire thing. Through a series of stupid decisions, the pair come across the infamous puzzle box and quickly disappear. Good riddance.
After an unknown period of time we jump back to America, where Nico’s girlfriend, Emma, gets together with the families of both kids for a long night of awkward expository conversations (“Remember when Nico and Stephen went to Mexico and vanished and how we got their footage back after the police couldn’t make any sense of it?”). As it turns out, Emma also swiped the puzzle box from the evidence pile, and the group start to unravel the mystery while their own dark pasts (some glossed over bullshit about cheating spouses or something) comes into the fold.
Rushed direction by Victor Garcia (who in the past has made some really good short films and even the passable Mirrors 2) and an equally as rushed script by make-up whiz Gary Tunnicliffe make Revelations feel like an amateurish theatre production of the original Hellraiser. In fact, a good portion of the film plays out like a remake of the first film with Nico being resurrected a la Frank and feeding on the blood of prostitutes to regenerate himself. Eventually the story turns into a weak home invasion flick with wimpy little Stephen showing up all the way from Mexico to hold our characters hostage as a bargaining chip for the cenobites. Thanks to an ensemble of wretched performances, these scenes provide the film with a few moments of unintentional hilarity.
In the finale our characters are terrorized by the cenobite creature I will refer to as “Faux-Pinhead.” In case you were living under a rock, this production was met with fan controversy (as much as could be generated for a thankless DVD sequel) when the great Doug Bradley announced that he would not be returning to the role he helped to originate. Considering the quality of the other sequels, that was the biggest red flag of all and should have been the “revelation” the producers needed to axe this project, but they foolishly went ahead and recast one of the MOST ICONIC ROLES IN HORROR HISTORY with some random new guy. Imagine if they made a direct-to-video Evil Dead IV, casting Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino in place of Bruce Campbell, and you have a pretty good idea of how well this works. By comparison the new Pinhead looks and acts like the lead singer of some bad Norwegian Hellraiser-inspired goth band.
Faux-Pinhead is not to be confused with “Pseudo Pinhead,” the film’s other featured cenobite who is a minion of Faux-Pinhead that dresses and acts just like him. That gives you a pretty good insight into this movie’s creativity: Instead of new cenobites, we now have cenobites impersonating older cenobites. By this logic Hell would get really confusing and all its minions would stumble around confused, much like John Malkovich lost in his own subconscious.
Revelations was reportedly written and shot in a couple of weeks, and that sums up the mentality behind this movie. It seems as if no one behind the flick even cared. Given the scant shooting schedule that they had and the miniscule budget, how could anyone expect them to have time to? This is a movie where Asians are cast in the Mexico scenes in hopes that audiences won’t be able to tell the difference. This is a film where the heroine learns everything about the mythology by looking up the word “cenobite” in Webster’s dictionary. This is a movie that hastily rehashes the same twists and has the gall to leave it wide open for another bad sequel.
Hellraiser: Revelations easily takes its place as the worst installment in a major horror franchise – and that’s saying a lot. If you contribute one dollar to this film, consider your horror fan license revoked. You are not helping the genre or doing your duty as a fan; you’re another sucker feeding the cesspool of the film industry and further degrading your beloved icons.
0 out of 5
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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
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