The 10 Most Terrifying Moments In Hulu's Hellraiser, Ranked

Major spoilers for "Hellraiser" follow.

Recently, there has been an onslaught of horror reboots, which range from soulless cash grabs to new interpretations of old favorites that deepen the mythos surrounding some of Hollywood's most enduring franchises. Simply throwing buckets of blood at the screen is enough to satiate the desires of some gore hounds; for the rest of us, though, it's a good thing that David Bruckner's "Hellraiser" does that and much, much more. 

The 2022 film is the rare reboot that honors its source material while expanding upon it in new and exciting ways. There are still plenty of nightmarish Cenobites, lots of brutal violence, and the creepy visuals that fans have come to expect from a "Hellraiser" movie. However, Bruckner also delves into the nature of addiction, whether to controlled substances or power, and the dangers that come with it. Further, Jamie Clayton, who plays the new Hell Priest, aka Pinhead, honors Doug Bradley's legacy while making the character wholly her own. It's one hell of a performance. 

The plot of "Hellraiser" centers around Riley (Odessa A'zion), a recovering addict who reluctantly helps her boyfriend, Trevor, steal what fans immediately recognize as the "Lament Configuration" box. When Riley solves the first puzzle, she summons the Cenobites, leading to her brother's disappearance. But that's just the beginning. This new box has six configurations, and with the conclusion of each puzzle, another life is sacrificed, bringing Riley one step closer to unraveling the mystery. It's a journey filled with terrifying imagery; here are the 10 moments that are most likely to make viewers shriek in fear (and delight).

10. The first kill

In the opening of "Hellraiser," a young man named Joey walks through a debauchery-filled party at a lavish mansion. He meets Serena (Hiam Abbass), who directs him to billionaire Roland Voight (Goran Visnjic), who he finds in a secluded room where several occult items are on display. Voight encourages Joey to solve a puzzle box so that he can collect his "prize." Joey turns this demonic Rubik's Cube until a blade stabs him in the hand. Blood flows, a wall opens up, and chains emerge from the depths of Hell, encircling Joey and stringing him up. Voight calmly takes the box and demands an audience with Leviathan, and we smash cut to the title card.

This is how you open a movie. Listening to the thumping bass of the party fade away as Joey gets closer to his fate is a canny way to build suspense, and while fans will immediately recognize the signature "Hellraiser" puzzle box, it's in a shape that we haven't seen before, slyly hinting at how the film balances the old and the new. The scene also includes the perfect amount of gore. It starts with a moment of brutality, but the rest of Joey's torture plays out of focus in the background as Voight becomes the main subject. As such, horror fans get a tease of the bloody good times to come, while the more squeamish aren't immediately turned off.

9. The new Pinhead appears

After a fight with her brother, Matt, Riley leaves with the puzzle box and pops a few pills. She unlocks the next configuration, but the blade misses her hand just as her surroundings start to spin. That's when the Gasp Cenobite appears, hissing that the blade was meant for Riley. From the shadows, we also glimpse Jamie Clayton's Pinhead as she warns, "If not you ... bring us another." A bloody circle pushes through Riley's chest, and the hooked chains appear and attack Matt, who wakes up from the nightmare in a cold sweat.

This scene has fun toying with both the audience and Riley. At first, we don't know if she's woozy from the drugs or the box, and we don't know if the chains are actually attacking Matt until he wakes up. Regardless, Riley is now under Pinhead's curse. The opening scene reveals what happens when someone solves the puzzle, so the minute that Riley starts rotating this cursed cube the tension begins to build. It takes a compelling premise to make manipulating pieces of a gold box scary. The blade's miss gives us a chance to breathe, but the moment is cut short when the Cenobites arrive. It's smart to reveal only slivers of the Gasp and Pinhead, too; it's like a devious appetizer for the horrific meal that Bruckner has in store.

8. Riley's choice

After Nora's death, Riley decides to get rid of the box. Before she does, however, Pinhead tempts her with the resurrection of her brother. Riley refuses. Pinhead flicks her fingers, and the blade appears from the box, stabbing Riley's hand. Now, the Cenobites can claim her soul whenever they see fit. Riley is thus faced with the impossible choice: allow herself to be ripped apart, or sacrifice two more to the box to reach its final configuration. 

Here's where the addiction metaphor sneaks its way back in. "Hellraiser" doesn't hammer you over the head with the symbolism, but it's there for those who want to peel back the metaphorical layers, similar to how the Cenobites peel back literal layers of human flesh. Riley knows that this box will only bring more pain, but she's still tempted by the hope of feeling good again — in this case, by getting her brother back. In addition, this moment allows Jamie Clayton to revel in her evil monologuing, and she's bone-chillingly badass. 

In an interview with Yahoo, Clayton discussed the extreme discomfort of the Pinhead prosthetics and how she had to dig deep into the "well of my life and all of the good and the bad things that I've been through, putting that all into a pot and casting a spell and hoping that it worked" for her performance. It was all more than worth the effort, and we hope this is the first of many spells that Clayton casts as Pinhead.

7. Voight's final transformation

Viewers thought they'd seen the last of Voight when he was pulled up to Leviathan flailing in pain, but there's much more to his fate. Later, he wakes up strapped to a gold table, surrounded by a hypnotic white light. Then, his transformation begins. Sections of his skin peel back, pins pierce his neck and shoulders, and his lips and cheeks are ripped off as his eyes shift to a cold, lifeless blue. In the end, he's transformed into a new Cenobite, and we get a mere taste of the new "sights" Pinhead has in store for him.

This final scene showcases what the first "Hellraiser" was masterful at: combining beauty, horror, and twisted religious imagery. Voight appears to be bathed in celestial light, and his outstretched arms resemble wings; remember that, earlier, Voight called the Cenobites "angels." And yet, even after witnessing the horrors they're capable of, Voight doesn't care. He's a billionaire. Feeding the less fortunate to demons to obtain an otherworldly "gift" is second nature to him; he never suspected that their bloodlust would be turned on him. Voight stares at the camera in a grotesque crucifixion pose as he's reborn as an angel of death and despair. It's a fitting end to such a despicable villain.

6. Pinhead closes in

Voight gives Pinhead an ultimatum: Release him from his endless pain, or stay trapped in his carefully constructed prison. He has the upper hand until Riley steals the box and opens the gates. As Pinhead slowly closes in, Voight begs her to take his gift back. Unfortunately, Cenobites have a strict no-return policy, but he can choose a new one. Naturally, Voight selects power. The torture device in his chest falls out and his body reforms, just as a giant chain appears from the Leviathan ship and lifts him to the heavens. As he ascends, Pinhead utters the "Hellraiser" franchise's iconic line: "Oh yes, we have such sights to show you."

The film's addiction metaphor is very clear here. Voight has been addicted to power his whole life — power granted by money, power achieved by dominating others, and so on. As Pinhead says, "There's no retreat once a threshold has been crossed. All you can do is search for greater thresholds." 

For Voight, nothing on this Earth was ever enough. His endless search brought all these nightmares upon him. There's a Faustian element to the moment as well: Voight made a deal with literal devils, and now they've come to collect — and collect they do. When Voight's torture machine falls apart one bolt at a time and his organs and muscles reform, it's Cronenberg-level body horror, brought to life with fantastically disgusting practical effects.

5. The Chatterer stalks his prey

Pinhead opens a portal in the ground and summons the Chatterer to chase Riley, Colin, and Trevor back to the mansion. As one does in horror films, Colin trips and recoils, expecting to meet a toothy end. However, the Chatterer goes straight for Riley and Trevor instead. He shoves the massive metal gate open, pins the two against the wall, and begins to gnaw on Trevor's arm until Riley stabs the beast with the box. Pinhead summons the chains as the Chatterer calmly accepts its fate. The monster is ripped apart in an explosion of blood and limbs. 

This entire sequence feels like a love letter to slasher film villains: the slow reveal of the monster, the victims' frozen-in-shock look before they take off running, the cliche of the guy with glasses falling, and the expectation that his friends will have to watch him be eviscerated, only to have that subverted. The Chatterer doesn't need Colin. He hasn't been marked yet. It seems like there's no way out for Riley, but then she gets out of this dire situation with a clever nod to the original film, in which Kirsty reverses the puzzle to banish Pinhead, and reveals this new version of the box can be used against the Cenobites. 

4. The Gasp offers a choice

During the climax of "Hellraiser," Colin is stalked by the Gasp and two new Cenobites, the Mother and the Masque, after being marked by Voight. He's strung up by metal wires that dig into his arms and chest. However, the Gasp gives Riley the option to choose another to take his place. So, she stabs her shifty boyfriend, Trevor, who's been working for Voight. A metal wire wraps around Trevor's neck. More encircle his arms as his skin peels off his body and he's pulled into a bottomless well, never to return. It's a horrific end, even for an unlikeable character.

Colin is one of the most sympathetic characters in "Hellraiser." His main concern is Matt and Riley. He tries to mediate their arguments, and feels like the group's voice of reason. So, when the wires dig in and his blood pours out, we dread what's going to happen next. Then there's Trevor, who suffers one of the most violent deaths in the film. We already knew that he was trouble — offering Riley booze when she's trying to stay sober, and suggesting they rob a shipping container are both big red flags. Riley's choice to stab Trevor isn't a simple one, as she does still have feelings for him, but he's also the reason her brother is gone. It's a tragic end to their relationship, but a step towards self-improvement, as she kills off her enabler.

3. The Asphyx attacks

After discovering they can sacrifice Cenobites to the box, Riley and Colin lure the Asphyx into the mansion and close the gates behind it. The metal patterns keep the rest of the Cenobites out. The Asphyx's arms are bound and its eyes covered. It seems helpless as Riley slowly approaches, bladed box in hand. Right then, however, the Cenobite breaks its shackles and charges full tilt after Riley and Colin. Trevor closes another metallic barrier just in time, pinning The Asphyx between the two sides of the gate. It flails around, reaching for Riley and ripping its skin mask off to reveal a gooey, skeletal face underneath.

From a sound design standpoint alone, Asphyx is one of the creepiest Cenobites. It emits hideous, raspy wails, strange demonic barking, and ferocious growls. Combined with its directionless ambling, it feels like a mix between the monsters in "A Quiet Place" and the zombies from a George A. Romero movie. The Cenobite prosthetic is incredibly surreal and grotesque, too. It appears to be bound by piano wire to a gold bar, with a large flap of skin pinned over its face, blinding it and muffling its moans. Until this point, the Cenobites have slowly stalked their prey, so when the Asphyx suddenly snaps free and chases Riley, it's shocking. And, of course, the practical effects work is top-notch, giving this gore a tangible and gleefully disgusting appeal.

2. Nora's sacrifice

Voight marks Nora, so her friends grab her and try to escape the mansion. As Trevor drives, though, the roads keep changing, creating a never-ending loop. Meanwhile, the back of the van pulls away from the front, creating a dark brick hallway. The Cenobites appear, and Pinhead unleashes her hooks, stringing up Nora. Pinhead pulls a pin from her forehead and pierces Nora's neck. From inside her body, we see the pin go through the other side. The Chatterer then grabs Nora by the face and she disappears from the van, leaving just a splatter of blood behind.

To say this scene is brutal would be an understatement; it puts to rest any concerns that this "Hellraiser" reboot will be tame. The dread and panic mount as the protagonists drive in circles, and as soon as the van starts stretching, we know the Cenobites are coming. The gore is detailed without becoming gratuitous; even the shot inside Nora's neck has a strange macabre beauty. In that way, it toes the Cenobites' thin line between pain and pleasure, which is further emphasized when Pinhead says to Nora, "There is so much more the body can be made to feel. And you'll feel it all. Before we're through." Despite what we've seen, Nora's pain is only beginning — that's the scariest part.

1. Serena and the Cenobites

Riley and Trevor visit Serena at a hospital, uncovering more secrets about Voight and the Lament Configuration box in the process. Serena tries to take the box from Riley, but the blade cuts her. Orderlies wheel her off to a room where the walls begin to shift, and the Asphyx slowly appears. Serena attempts to flee, only to be encircled by Cenobites. She begs for mercy, but is told to "save your breath for screaming" as the Gasp pulls a pin out of the Weeper's eyeball and places it in Serena's mouth.

This sequence is pure nightmare fuel and, hands down, the scariest scene in "Hellraiser." It fires on all cylinders. The sound design is incredible; the booming sounds of the walls shifting, Serena's panicked wheezing, and the Asphyx's ghastly wails would make Darth Vader run for the hills. At the same time, Serena's genuine remorse adds an emotional layer to the scares. The camera work is claustrophobic, too, circling Serena as the Cenobites dip out of the shadows for the first full reveal of the Gasp and the Weeper. 

Words can't do justice to the incredible prosthetics used for the new Cenobites' twisted designs. You really need to see them in action. David Bruckner discussed his preference for practical effects with The Hollywood Reporter. "In horror especially, CGI can really pull you out of the experience," he said. "You really need that extra 10% of belief when you're watching something to really ingest the anxiety and the fear of a particular image. Your lizard brain has to believe, so to speak. " Our lizard brain definitely believes. Mission accomplished, Mr. Bruckner.