David Bruckner Knows He's Taking On Something 'Sacred' With Hulu's Hellraiser

Horror fans comprise one of the most passionate and dedicated fan subcultures in film, with many beloved classics hailed as untouchable masterpieces. And yet, because capitalism be capitalising, some of the greatest horror films of all time have spiraled into decades-long franchises to varying degrees of success. In the last year alone, new installments in the "Halloween," "Scream," "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and "Predator" series have all been released, with even more legacy additions on their way.

One of those films is David Bruckner's upcoming "Hellraiser" film for Hulu, the 11th film in the canon and first since the rights to the story reverted back to creator Clive Barker. The latter additions to the "Hellraiser" series are some of the most poorly-received films across all of the major horror franchises, which has put Bruckner in an extremely difficult position. If the new "Hellraiser" is a hit, he'll be the man who brought the series back to life. If the new "Hellraiser" is another dud, this may be the final pin in the Cenobite's head.

I was fortunate enough to attend a press conference this week for the new film, and it's obvious that Bruckner knows exactly what's at stake with the new film. "It's my first time ever working with sacred IP and feeling a responsibility to what has come before us," Brucker said. The director first burst onto the horror scene with segments in the films "The Signal," "V/H/S," and "Southbound," before helming the stellar feature films "The Ritual" and "The Night House." Bruckner also brought frequent collaborators Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski to write the script for "Hellraiser."

'A responsibility to just lose ourselves'

As someone who works primarily in horror, Bruckner is fully aware that there's an entire bequest riding on the success of this film. "'Hellraiser' is pretty hard," he said. "I was joking, you know, it could be a person with a mask on and a knife, but it's not, they're inter-dimensional BDSM demons coming from a labyrinth, it's complicated stuff to get right." 

What has always separated "Hellraiser" from its contemporaries like "Halloween" or even "A Nightmare on Elm Street" has been the complicated lore of the Lament configuration and the Cenobites. This is so much more than just a slasher series, especially when the aesthetics are rooted in the very real, underground BDSM queer scenes that inspired Clive Barker's novel, "The Hellbound Heart."

"Actually making one of these films, my admiration goes to all the filmmakers that have come before us on it," said Bruckner. "So [we were] holding that in as high regard as we can, but also — and this is something that we all talked about as a team, and I think everybody was on board for — it was like we also have a responsibility to just lose ourselves in this and allow it to take us in different directions if we're so compelled, and to be true to the story that we're telling." It's clear that Bruckner has such sights to show us, and the wait to see how his take on "Hellraiser" turns out will be exquisite agony.

"Hellraiser" will be available to stream on Hulu beginning October 7, 2022.