The Scene From David Bruckner's Hellraiser That Truly Terrified Us

This article contains spoilers for the new "Hellraiser" film.

Thanks to the series' inspiration rooted in body modification and extreme BDSM communities, the "Hellraiser" franchise is home to some of the most striking imagery in horror history. Few can forget the horrific sight of Frank Cotton uttering the famous phrase "Jesus wept" as Cenobite-controlled chains tear his flesh completely off his frame. The second film, "Hellbound: Hellraiser II," showcases a skinless Julia Cotton, terrorizing her victims as she galavants around with bloody, exposed muscle, as well as the skinless figure of a man who has written "I Am In Hell Help Me," in his own blood. The "Hellraiser" films are as grotesque as they are gorgeous, but have inspired plenty of nightmares for generations of horror fans.

Known for "The Ritual" and "The Night House," director David Bruckner is the latest to continue the series first established by author and filmmaker Clive Barker, with the new singularly-titled "Hellraiser" film marking the eleventh film in the series. Bruckner has gone on record that he knows continuing the story of the Cenobites is dabbling with something "sacred," but fortunately, his take on "Hellraiser" is a wonderful addition to the series that pays homage to the original while still standing on its own. Only person who can tell a story like Clive Barker is Clive Barker, so this new film is very much David Bruckner's interpretation of the material. Even still, the director has such sights to show, and one scene in particular truly encapsulates the horror of "Hellraiser" unlike any other.

What is Hellraiser about?

"Hellraiser" is centered primarily on Riley (Odessa A'zion), a young woman crashing at her brother's apartment while she desperately tries to stay sober. Riley's addiction issues have caused an unfortunate rift between her and her brother, and when he finally loses his patience with her and kicks her out, she seeks solace with her new, sort-of boyfriend, another former addict named Trevor (Drew Starkey).

With nowhere to go and desperately in need of money, Trevor invites her to join him on an expedition to retrieve a mysterious object for a wealthy art collector. Riley helps Trevor retrieve the object, a mysterious puzzle box that unleashes a blade whenever a new configuration has been solved, absorbing the blood and unleashing the Cenobites to claim the flesh of the unlucky person who solved the puzzle.

From the opening moments of "Hellraiser," audiences know they're in for something truly unique. The wealthy Mr. Voight (Goran Visnjic), the last known person in possession of the puzzle box, had dedicated his life to capturing the power of the Cenobites, completely remodeling his home to resemble a gigantic replica of the box. He has been seducing victims to feed to the Cenobites for years, but disappears mysteriously, leaving the box unattended for Riley and Trevor to obtain six years later.

Scares from the start

Riley solves the first configuration, just missing an ejecting blade and keeping herself from being stabbed, but the Cenobites arrive and tell her she must join them in their world where pain and pleasure are one in the same, or select someone to go in her place. Unfortunately, her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn) is accidentally stabbed by the box, and later taken by the Cenobites. Riley, desperate to bring him back, becomes determined to figure out the truth of the Cenobites. Unfortunately, given Riley's history with addiction, Matt's boyfriend Colin (Adam Faison) and their roommate Nora (Aoife Hinds) don't trust her, and put themselves in danger to figure out what happened to Matt.

Riley heads to the mansion looking for answers, with Colin, Trevor, and Nora showing up to bring her home. Just when it seems like Riley might be getting close to answers, Voight appears from behind the walls, stabbing Nora with the blade from the box. With her blood absorbed by the configuration, she inadvertently becomes the next target of the Cenobites, to be tortured beyond mere mortal comprehension. The group attempts to leave the mansion grounds, but Nora, laying in the back of the escape van, suddenly finds reality stripped away. The Cenobites have taken over, and she is held down by chains, coming face-to-face with the leader of the Cenobites, The Hell Priest (Jamie Clayton).

The scariest scene

Many of the deaths shown in "Hellraiser" are graphic, albeit quick, but Nora's death is truly harrowing. The Hell Priest uses chains to manipulate Nora's body into a cracked, inverted position as she looks death in the eye and screams in terror. The Hell Priest pulls a long pin from her own flesh, and slowly inserts the needle horizontally through Nora's throat. She continues to scream as the sharp metal enters and exits her body, her vocal cords shaking in agony as she feels every single movement. There is an absolutely brutal shot shown from inside Nora's throat, as the audience sees her muscles and tissues pierced and manipulated by The Hell Priest.

Being able to see Nora's torture from the inside of her body feels exceptionally invasive, and triggers a phantom sensation of pain in the throats of those watching her demise. Nora's death is slow, painful, and provides much pleasure to the Cenobites. But the audience can only watch in horror as Nora is obliterated from inside a dimension from which she cannot be saved. Her blood was in the box, and there's nothing anyone can do but helplessly watch her inevitable destruction. 

Bruckner's "Hellraiser" may not have as many moments of viscerally revolting skinless imagery as Barker's original, but Nora's death is a truly terrifying addition to the "Hellraiser" canon of kills.