The New Hellraiser's Puzzle Box Has More Meaning Than You Might Expect

Of the longstanding horror franchises, none has been more inconsistent than Clive Barker's "Hellraiser." I can see some of you pointing out the "Leprechaun" series, but that would require Warwick Davis' gold-obsessed slasher villain to have one good movie, let alone eight. But regardless, Doug Bradley's Pinhead is a formidable screen presence who, at the very least, is responsible for being at the center of two creative pieces of mythical horror.

After "Hellbound: Hellraiser II," the series never fully recovered itself. But even when this series had its unfathomable lows, Bradley gave it his all regardless, barring the last two direct-to-DVD entries ("Hellraiser: Revelations" and "Hellraiser: Judgment"). But the time has come for new blood to take the mantle of the hell priest with Hulu's "Hellraiser." If festival reactions are to be believed, it appears that "Sense8" star Jamie Clayton has successfully revived this series from the grave with a fresh take on the character, and I truly cannot wait to see her at the height of her powers.

In the event you want to see Pinhead in action but don't have a Hulu subscription, Clayton has something for you. It's called the Lament Configuration, and once you solve it, you'll see something you've never seen before. In this case, it turns out that the puzzle box of pain and pleasure itself will be unlike anything we've seen before in this series.

The Lament Configuration resembles 'the extent of human experience'

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, director David Bruckner ("The Night House") talks about how, whenever a slasher franchise is revived, it comes with its own set of prerequisites. "Certain patterns in the way the films are structured are repeatable across every iteration," says Bruckner.

But the difference with something like "Hellraiser" is that, for better or worse, beyond the presence of Pinhead and his loyal Cenobites, has never pigeonholed itself into being one thing. There's so much room for interpretation, and Brucker is the perfect person to try something new with this series.

With the script already penned by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, along with David S. Goyer's story, by the time Bruckner came on board, the thing that excited him the most was the new and complicated interpretation of the Lament Configuration:

"Specifically, it's the six iterations of the box and how those represent the extent of human experience, which are explored alongside the Cenobites. I thought that was a wonderful expansion of the mythology and something we hadn't seen before. It created chapter headings throughout the film in a way that really, really made sense for me."

Going off of that brief glimpse of a notebook in the trailer, it would seem the six sides of the deadly puzzle box represent life, knowledge, love, sensation, and resurrection. Although I can't make out the last one, I think it's safe to say that it involves a lot of pain. Whether the pain is welcome or not is up to whoever decides to take the plunge.

'Every box is practical'

In the event you weren't already impressed with the additions to the legacy of the Lament Configuration, according to Bruckner, its shapely movements were done practically with little CGI involved (via The Hollywood Reporter):

"We had a very practical approach to the film that's in keeping with the franchise, but there was VFX augmentation. There were moments where we leaned into digital, but we tried to be very, very judicious as to when that would happen. In horror especially, CGI can really pull you out of the experience. You really need that extra 10 percent of belief when you're watching something to really ingest the anxiety and the fear of a particular image."

Even the journal within the trailer shows someone describing it as "remarkably heavy."

The change to the Lament Configuration that interests me the most, however, is the sacrifice that comes with solving it. Rather than waiting for the Cenobites to hook you up, the puzzle box cuts you with each new development. It's such a brilliant addition to the mythos, as it makes Pinhead's presence that much more of a big deal.

Whether you're actively aspiring to live on another level of painful existence, the miniature bloodletting of the Lament Configuration is a test in and of itself, making sure you really want what's about to happen to you. Should you complete the puzzle, you've ultimately agreed to a painful appointment with Clayton's Pinhead, complete with chains, hooks, and all the suffering you can handle.

"Hellraiser" will premiere on Hulu on October 7, 2022.