Neither Trevor nor Matt’s relationship with Riley develops much over time (it’s 121 minutes long, people), since so much of the plot concerns the arrival and eventual disappearance of the Cenobites. They chase after Riley because she steals and accidentally unlocks a gilded puzzle box. But Riley only steals the box, which horror fans will instantly recognize as a way of summoning the Cenobites, because Trevor encourages her. Riley also only further entrenches herself into the Cenobites’ story—which connects the box with its previous owner, the elusive rich guy bohemian Mr. Voight (Goran Visnjic)—in the vain hope that mastering the box will bring Matt back to her.
Bruckner also confirms what his strong, but not-all-there previous feature, “The Night House,” suggested as far as his casual indifference to character and narrative continuity. Even the agonizing dispatch of Serena (Hiam Abbass), Voight’s weary assistant, seems inconsequential since her personality is neither reflected in establishing scenes nor in her seemingly interminable showdown with the Cenobites. It’s always nice to see Abbass pop up in English-language productions, but the poor woman can only do so much with a supporting character who’s more of a prop than a person.
Still, there’s a chance you’ll enjoy Bruckner’s “Hellraiser” if you’ve seen or care for Barker’s “Hellraiser.” This updated version doesn’t hang together very well from scene to scene, and it doesn’t really enhance Barker’s original character concepts, which were really only ever great plot suggestions to begin with. But there are, however, enough pleasurable callbacks and suspenseful moments to keep you waiting expectantly for something to happen.