Forget the battle for the next James Bond – horror fans finally know the next Pinhead: Jamie Clayton, of The L Word: Generation Q and Sense8 fame. After years of false starts, principal photography has finally been completed, and to celebrate Hulu (where it’ll be showing first) announced her as the star. Afterwards, the actress took to Twitter to share an image of herself with a puzzle box and the familiar caption “Demons to some. Angels to others”.
On that point, I expect casting a woman seem like heresy to many: a quick look around Twitter, and you can see people dismiss it as “wokeness” “PC gone mad” or “gender-swapping”. Yet Clayton’s casting is completely consistent with Clive Barker’s original vision. In his novella The Hellbound Heart, the lead cenobite is explicitly written as non-binary in appearance. It’s noted that Frank had “difficulty” guessing with any certainty. Their voice is also described as “light and breathy-the voice of an excited girl”. As such, her casting sounds like an exciting new direction for the series and a way of being faithful to the source material without having someone imitate the ever-excellent Doug Bradley. It’s also refreshing to see a major franchise cast a trans woman in such an iconic part. In line with this idea, the film has been described as a “loyal, yet evolved re-imagining of Clive Barker’s 1987 horror classic”.
The movie is directed by David Bruckner, based upon a screenplay by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski: the same team who recently gave us The Night House. And though it was far from my favourite film of the year, the aesthetic and basic concept were both fabulous. David Goyer, who came up with the story, adds “from the moment I first read ‘The Hellbound Heart,’ Clive Barker became one of my literary heroes… His work is transgressive and completely redefined the horror genre. Under the guiding hand of David Bruckner, we’re going back to the source and taking our inspiration from that original novella”.
Barker himself, who acts as producer, says “having seen some of the designs from David Bruckner’s new ‘Hellraiser’ film, they pay homage to what the first film created, but then take it to places it’s never been before. This is a ‘Hellraiser’ on a scale that I simply didn’t expect. David and his team are steeped in the story’s mythology, but what excites me is their desire to honour the original even as they revolutionize it for a new generation.”
This film also stars Odessa A’zion (Grand Army, Mark, Mary, & Some Other People), Brandon Flynn (13 Reasons Why, Ratched), Goran Visnjic (The Boys, ER), Drew Starkey (Outer Banks, Love, Simon), Adam Faison (Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, Into the Dark), Aoife Hinds (Normal People, Anne Boleyn), and Hiam Abbass (Blade Runner 2049, Succession). Personally, I can’t wait to see it. More details as they come.