Hellraiser Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Hellraiser (2022): Plot Summary, Hidden Meaning Of the Ending, Full Movie Explanation, Other films of the franchise. Pain, addiction, retribution and other meanings of the new thriller Hellraiser.

Country: USA, Serbia

Genre: horror

Year of production: 2022

Director: David Bruckner

Cast: Odessa Ezion, Adam Faison, Drew Starkey, Goran Visnjic, Jamie Clayton

Released in 2022, Hellraiser (Hellraiser) continues to build on the franchise started by Clive Barker in the 1980s. However, this time the picture was not a continuation of the previous parts, but a restart. We will understand its content and present our interpretation.

List of film franchises

The franchise officially consists of ten films (counting with the 2022 film, eleven):

  • Hellraiser (1987);
  • Hellraiser – 2 (1988);
  • Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth (1992);
  • Hellraiser 4: Blood Ties (1996);
  • Hellraiser 5: Inferno (2000);
  • Hellraiser 6: Seeker of Hell (2002);
  • Hellraiser 7: Deader than Dead (2003);
  • Hellraiser 8: Hell World (2005);
  • Hellraiser: Revelations (2011);
  • Hellraiser: Judgment (2018).

However, there are three more short spin-offs, united by the common title “Chronicles of the Hellraiser”:

  • “Possessed (1994)”;
  • “A Matter of Faith (2005)”;
  • “The Giver of Life (2009)”.

In addition, an anthology series is planned to be launched as part of the franchise. There is also a whole series of comics and books based on Hellraiser (among them there is even a crossover with the universe of Arthur Conan Doyle, where the hero is Sherlock Holmes).

Jamie ClaytonJamie Clayton as Pinhead. Frame from the film.

The very first and, according to many, the best horror film in the entire franchise, was an adaptation of the novel by Clive Barker. The rest of the pictures were either a continuation or spin-offs of the first part (sometimes with elements of prequels).

One way or another, the plot of all parts is built around a box invented by an eighteenth-century master named Philippe Lemarchand. It was a puzzle, solving which, its owner opened the door to hell – or rather, to some mysterious other dimension associated with hell. Cenobites, terrible creatures, former people, penetrated into the world of people through this door. One of them, nicknamed “Pinhead” (“Needlehead”), was remembered by the audience the most.

The Senobites brought suffering and torture to people. However, they themselves perceived them as the highest degree of pleasure – thanks to their perverted consciousness and the influence of their main deity.

The concept of the first two films, however, was not built around the Cenobites, but around people who fell into hell and seek to return back to the world of people. Hence the name. It can be said that the Cenobites were not even antagonists, villains as such. They were some kind of priests who punished (or, in their opinion, on the contrary, rewarded) people for their desire for pleasure. However, with the release of each new film, their motivation has changed. In the end, they turned into some kind of universal evil that wants to enslave the world. And in principle, the quality of the series closer to the final has seriously fallen.

The relaunch of Hellraiser in 2022 was intended, on the one hand, to return the franchise to its roots, on the other hand, to modernize it.

Plot of the film

The new Hellraiser begins with footage from Belgrade (Serbia). A certain woman exchanges a suitcase with money for a box, inside of which is the same Lemarchand box, known to everyone who watched the original franchise. However, we do not know what explanation of the origin of this item the authors can provide in the hypothetical following parts, so we can simply call it: a puzzle.

The delivery of the mysterious artifact was ordered by the rich man Roland Voight. We are transported to his mansion in Massachusetts (USA), where an orgy takes place, which turned out to be a guy named Joey. He meets with the woman who bought the puzzle in the previous episode. Her name is Sirena and she is Voight’s assistant.

The woman says that the rich man will certainly want to meet the guy, so that he should come at the appointed time to the room at the end of the corridor. Joey accepts the invitation. Entering the room, he sees a puzzle in its center. Now it is not a cube, as it was originally – it looks like the item has changed its configuration.

Joey takes it in his hand. Voight appears and insists that the guy find the answer to the puzzle. Just as Joey does this, a blade is stabbed into his arm. Turns out it was a trap. The guy tries to escape from the room, but special metal gates are in his way.

The puzzle assumes the configuration of Leviathan (the same has the supreme deity of the Cenobites of the same name), known to the audience from the second part. Joey is stabbed with chain hooks and subjected to horrific torture. Voight places the artifact in front of him and, looking up into the gathering clouds, asks for an audience with Leviathan.

We fast forward six years and meet the main character – a girl named Riley, as well as her boyfriend Trevor, neighbor Nora, brother Matt. His boyfriend Colin lives with him. Riley struggles with alcohol and drug addiction and goes through a rehab program. She also temporarily lives with Matt. The latter shows concern, but the girl perceives this as an attempt to control her.

Already in the next scene, Riley and Trevor are drinking alcohol and talking about what are the easy ways to get money. The guy says that he knows one warehouse that is not guarded. There is a safe there, but what is in it is unknown. Riley supports the idea of ​​committing a heist. The idea succeeds. And the mysterious contents of the safe turn out to be the same box, stained with blood inside, with a puzzle.

Riley takes the artifact for herself. Returning home, she quarrels with her brother, who is tired of her lifestyle and the constant violation of promises to quit alcohol and drugs. Matt kicks Riley out of the house, and she immediately goes outside. At night on the playground, a girl takes drugs and begins to solve a puzzle. She succeeds, the blade pops out, but does not hurt. The Cenobites show up and say that the blade was meant for Riley.

One of them (appearing to be a female version of the needle-headed cenobite from the previous parts, nicknamed the Priest) says that now the girl must find another victim. Hooked chains shoot out of Riley’s chest, grabbing Matt as he lays down. The latter wakes up abruptly from such a nightmare, goes to look for his sister and finds her on the playground unconscious under the influence of drugs. Matt accidentally grabs the puzzle and cuts his hand on the blade.

Lemarchand's casketFrame from the film.

The artifact absorbs his blood and assumes a different configuration. Cenobites are cut off with the guy. In the toilet where he tried to wash his hands, all that remains of him is a bloody stain. Before the massacre and disappearance, Matt (along with the audience) heard a sound resembling a bell ringing.

Riley gives a statement to the police, tells about the disappearance of a roommate and goes to Trevor. While making love to him, she sees one of the Cenobites. Shocked, the girl tells Trevor about what happened, offers to check how the puzzle works, but the guy refuses to touch her.

While trying to find Matt, Riley and Trevor figure out the name of the person on the container’s lease. It turns out to be Sirena – Roland Voight’s assistant. Young people visit her in the hospital – the woman is suffering from a fatal illness. She says that Riley must have seen the Cenobites, whom Voight called angels – however, this man was a beast, so “the devil did not recognize the devil.”

According to her, the puzzle was not kept, but hidden in a safe, and it needs to be returned. Siren grabs the artifact, Riley tries to take it away. During this skirmish, the blade pierces the woman’s hand. Like last time, after the incident, the artifact changes its configuration, and the cenobites come to the “marked” victim, subjecting her to sophisticated torture.

Riley uses the Internet to find out that Roland Voight disappeared six years ago, and in front of him are several employees of his mansion. The girl goes to this place in the hope of finding her brother. There she discovers the same sacrificial room with a movable metal grille. In Voight’s office, Riley finds his diary. From the entries in it, the girl learns about the cenobites: “Each cenobite is uniquely cut and crippled – more than the human body can withstand.” It also follows from the diary that the puzzle has six configurations:

  • Lament (Lament – Life);
  • Lore (Lore – Knowledge);
  • Lauderant (Lauderant – Love);
  • Liminal (Liminal – Sensuality);
  • Lazarus (Lazar – Resurrection);
  • Leviathan (Leviathan – Power).

At Voight’s house, Riley sees her brother, but it turns out to be an illusion. The whole company enters the mansion to stop the girl in her search: Trevor, Colin and Nora. Riley talks about the diary he found, which also says that by opening the last combination of the puzzle called Leviathan, you can get an audience with the “god” of the same name.

This essence for everyone who has reached this stage grants a wish corresponding to the name of one of the six configurations of the artifact. Riley hopes to use Lazarus’ wish to resurrect his brother. To do this, you need to go through the remaining three stages, marking the puzzles of the victims with a blade.

Odessa EzionOdessa Ezion played the role of Riley. Frame from the film.

Meanwhile, Nora, left alone for a while, finds a secret room. She goes there and is locked up. There, Roland Voight wounds her with a blade puzzle in the back. The girl breaks out of the trap, but too late – she is marked as the next victim. Friends try to take Nora to the hospital. She, getting into the car, says that she hears bells. The portal opens again, through which the Cenobites come, take Nora and torture her.

The survivors have an accident and decide to return to the mansion, where there is another car left. Riley tries to get rid of the puzzle. The Cenobite Priest stops her, insisting that she must accept the suffering caused – great pleasure lies ahead. The priests of pain want the sacrifice to continue. To the question “What are you?” The cenobite replies: “We are explorers of new frontiers of experience in the realm of sensuality, our gifts are limitless.” The priest says that Riley knows what they have to offer – the resurrection of a brother. The sinobit marks the girl with a blade, adding that she is now in their hands. Riley needs to tag two more people or she will become a victim herself.

In order to provoke the heroine to mark the remaining friends with a blade, the Priest directs another cenobite, the Nutcracker, in their direction. He passes by Colin, but hurts Trevor. Riley plunges the blade into the Nutcracker. Chains with hooks dig into the cenobite and tear him apart. The puzzle is transformed – there remains one more sacrifice.

The friends get to the mansion and lower the iron frame so that the Cenobites can’t get in. Roland Voight approaches Trevor, who is left alone (there is a painful mechanism in his body) and accuses the guy of deviating from the originally planned plan. After all, the henchman was supposed to open the puzzle himself and make sacrifices, and not give it to Riley.

The girl is going to lure one of the Cenobites and injure him. Friends open the passage to the building, Riley goes outside. She asks the Cenobites to take her away, just as they took the others. They object: “We didn’t take them away, but released them.”

The idea fails: one of the cenobites falls into a trap, but Voight intervenes, who takes the puzzle and plunges the blade into Colin. The villain also exposes Trevor to the rest: the guy worked for him and actually helped to sacrifice friends for money. Voight reveals that he had already reached the Leviathan configuration and made his wish in accordance with the Liminal – Sensuality configuration, because he had tried all the pleasures in the world, but wanted even more. But the sinobites played a cruel joke with him: now he feels everything much sharper thanks to a mechanism built into his body that literally pulls on his nerves and causes terrible pain. Having reached the stage of the audience again, Voight wants to get rid of this torment.

Goran VisnjicGoran Visnjic played the role of Voight. Frame from the film.

Trevor opens the passage to the building for the Cenobites, who overtake Colin. The puzzle transforms into the final configuration. Voight requests an audience before Leviathan. The latter in the form of a huge geometric figure hangs over the building. In his direction, the blood of the victims shoots up straight from the puzzle. Voight, using the same iron bars, locks the Cenobites and demands that they rid him of the mechanism built into his body.

Riley steals the puzzle and reopens the passage to the center of the cenobite chamber. She runs up to Colin, for whom the torture is already beginning, and asks to spare him. In response, the cenobite offers to choose another victim. Then the girl plunges the puzzle into Trevor, with whom the creatures immediately deal with.

Voight kneels before the Priest – now he is in the position of a loser. He begs to be put out of his misery and let him die. But the cenobite says: “There is no turning back. Once you have crossed the threshold, you can only look for new thresholds – higher and higher. Gifts cannot be given away – only an exchange can be made.

The priest says that in fact, Voight never sought sensuality – all his pleasures and achievements were in power. Therefore, the cenobite offers him the Leviathan configuration – that is, the desire called “power”. Voight agrees. The mechanism disappears from his body, the wounds heal. However, further hooks on chains pierce him and his body is carried away towards the floating geometric figure – Leviathan. After all, according to the Priest, the power of the Cenobites lies in domination, in the full right of torment.

Riley steps out to the center of the room. The Cenobites ask her which of the wishes, according to the configurations, she wants to fulfill. To tempt the girl to choose resurrection, they again show her brother in his lifetime appearance. However, realizing that these creatures always fulfill wishes with a trick, the heroine refuses to make a choice. This means that her fate Lament – a life full of regrets. Now Riley will live, constantly aware that she caused suffering for her friends.

In the end, we are shown Roland Voight, who is now in a hellish dimension on a certain crucifix. His flesh is transformed – with the help of torment, he turns into a new cenobite.

Brandon FlynnThe role of Matt was played by Brandon Flynn. Frame from the film.


Once again, let’s go over the description of the main characters of the film:

  • Riley is the main character, a young girl leading a wild life, suffering from drug addiction and alcoholism.
  • Matt is her brother, who sincerely tries to take care of her, but appears to his sister as an annoying controlling guardian.
  • Colin is Matt’s kind boyfriend.
  • Nora is the heroes’ roommate.
  • Trevor is Riley’s boyfriend, who reveals himself at the end of the film from the negative side.
  • Roland Voight is a wealthy billionaire, a beast, a power lover, a pleasure seeker.
  • Siren is his assistant.

Separately and in a little more detail, it is worth listing the cenobites as characters that will complement the lore of the universe of horror films in the series in question. There are only seven of them in the 2022 version of Hellraiser:

  • Pinhead (Needlehead) is a variation of the classic leader of the Cenobite factions, who is also called the Engineer or Priest (the last nickname is The Priest in the credits of the 2022 film). Initially, the needles in his head were supposed to hint at the predisposition of the person that this creature used to be to use drugs (in the 1987 version, it was an English soldier during the First World War). However, the new Pinhead probably has a different backstory that was not revealed in the new film. Now he looks more like the original character from Clive Barker’s story – there the cenobite had both female and male features. No wonder the actor who played the role of Pinhead in the 2022 version is a transgender woman.
  • Pinhead’s right hand, whose name can be translated as “Choke” or “Sigh” (credited as “The Gasp”), is a reimagining of the Cenobite woman from the first part.
  • Asphyx (credited as “The Aspyx”) is a blind cenobite with heavy breathing. Probably, his nickname also refers to suffocation – asphyxia.
  • Crybaby (credited as “The Weeper”) is a dark creature with blood marks under its eyes. Just like in many cenobites, needles are stuck into his body – long and short.
  • The Nutcracker, or Chatterbox (in the credits: “The Chatterer”) is a cenobite with constantly snapping jaws. Another reimagining of a creature from the early films.
  • Mother (credited as The Mother) is another cenobite who vaguely resembles a female nun and only appears once in the film.
  • The Masque (credited as “The Masque”) is a Cenobite with a mask-like face. Like the Mother, she is not involved in the film as a torturer-executioner and, probably, was added for the quantity and the necessary atmosphere in the episodes.

TrevorDrew Starkey played the role of Trevor. Frame from the film.

Hellraiser Ending explanation

The meaning of the ending of the film “Hellraiser” is that each of the main characters got what they deserved. Roland Voight has been a beast all his life, desiring new pleasures and power. Both he received from the Cenobites in a perverted form. Pleasure in their understanding is pain. After all, it reveals new facets of sensuality. And power is the power of the priests of pain over those who are marked as their victims. Therefore, instead of getting rid of torment, Voight becomes a new cenobite.

Trevor served Voight and became a traitor – he is overtaken by punishment. Riley, thanks to her selfishness, put her friends in danger and some of them became victims of the Cenobites. Now she is doomed to live with an oppressive sense of guilt and regret that she will never be able to return the people she loves.

Such an explanation of the ending, on the one hand, returns the franchise to the original concept, in which the Cenobites were not a banal evil, but were, in fact, only a tool for punishing sinners. The puzzle initially fell into the hands of those who followed the wrong path and deserved to be punished. Positive characters avoided punishment. But, on the other hand, in the new Hellraiser there are victim characters who are, if not positive, then at least neutral. And in this there is a commonality with the less developed later parts of the franchise.


Unfortunately, there are a lot of such things that destroy a great concept in the film. The creators of the new picture treated the original with respect, but still added details reminiscent of the not-so-thought-out details of the slashers of the zero. The film is basically similar to them in structure: young people who do not cause much sympathy, in turn become victims. Only instead of maniacs here are cenobites.

Even a detailed analysis of the film will not give an answer to the question of what was the point of starting a gamble with the “stealing” of the puzzle. Why couldn’t Roland Voight, using his money and connections, continue to make sacrifices on his own in his estate? Why did he need Trevor? Why did he wait six whole years? Why did Voight decide that if someone else (Trevor or Riley) gets the puzzle, he still has the right to make a wish?

Why didn’t the rich man try to get medical help to remove the mechanism from his body, but instead tried to remove the device himself? Why do metal bars stop not only people, but also cenobites? After all, we were shown that these creatures can penetrate anywhere through portals.

Alas, there is no hidden meaning that gives a reasonable explanation – it’s all just plot holes.

Odessa EzionFrame from the film.

The meaning of the film Hellraiser

It is worth noting that the authors still managed to bring something fresh and original to the franchise. Now the puzzle “marks” its victims and eventually grants the desire of the “hunter” in a perverted form. The victims themselves appear to be dying. While in the previous parts they became prisoners, servants of hell or cenobites. This place itself is shown as a different dimension (even if only in the very ending) without direct hints of Christian hell. Although there are biblical references here. For example, the names of puzzle configurations: Lazarus, Leviathan. The first is a New Testament character resurrected by Christ after death. The second is the character of the Old Testament, which is a sea monster.

If you look for the meaning of the picture, you will have to admit that the authors “undercooked” it a little. The whole story can be seen as Riley’s recovery from addiction. She wants to get rid of her addiction, but she can’t. She is trying to bring back her brother, who died, and she also fails. No matter how hard it is, she accepts this fact (and the temptation to ask the Cenobites for resurrection was great). In addition, Riley gets rid of Trevor, who was dragging her to the bottom.

The meaning of “pain as a different form of pleasure”, which fills the entire franchise and the new picture, is closer to the concept than to the essence of the film.

The creator of the original Clive Barker used this idea, inspired by the study of masochists and a whole layer of culture, especially the visual arts, which emphasizes physical suffering. But it is interesting that in the new Hellraiser, mental pain is put on a par with the torture of the body – after all, it was precisely such a punishment-reward that Riley received from the Cenobites.

Instead of depth, the creators give the viewer an attraction of fear and a gloomy atmosphere. In this regard, the new film of the franchise is not much different from most horror films.

the meaning of the puzzleFrame from the film.

Similar films

  • “The Wishmaker” (USA, franchise 1997-2001): a series of horror films where the main antagonist is a genie who grants people’s wishes too literally.
  • “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (USA, franchise 1984-1994): another famous horror series dedicated to the maniac who comes in dreams – Freddy Krueger.
  • “Tales from the Crypt” (USA, TV series 1988 – 1996): an anthology of instructive horror films.

Add a comment