David Bruckner’s 2022 reboot of Hellraiser enjoyed some degree of success (such as making SyFy’s best of 2022 list) and faced considerably less hate than some previous sequels. Many were also surprised by the emergence of a female “Pinhead” (played by Jamie Clayton), though plenty of fans were supportive of the idea.
To better understand what went right, we wanted to ask someone about what made this film stand out. We decided to get a few answers about the installment’s success from production designer Kathrin Eder.
Hellraiser (2022): Interview with Production Designer Kathrin Eder
1428 ELM: The 2022 Hellraiser sort of clarifies some things about the Hellraiser universe, the Cenobites, and Leviathan. Did you have to research the franchise in order for the mythology to inform production design?
KATHRIN EDER: I love research and preproduction. I love the concept design phase. Besides diving into the Hellraiser Universe that Clive Barker created, I also did a lot of research on the history of pain, torture, sexuality, and power. We agreed early on that we wanted to break away from anything that pinned a specific religion since we felt that would only marginalize our characters into stereotypes.
Instead, we wanted to pinpoint universal themes of the human experience; something, that in fact, our Cenobites bank on. A lot of that research was the starting point of the production design and heavily influenced shapes, textures, color pallets, and set decoration. It is a pleasure to work with a director like David, who is so open to having very deep, detailed conversations about things that, at first sight, might not feel related to production design, but in the end heavily influence it.
1428 ELM: Voight’s mansion is rather interesting and has escape room vibes. What can you tell us about that design?
KATHRIN EDER: To build on my previous answer, Voight (Goran Višnjić) as our earthly antagonist represents a lot of the grander themes we discussed for the film. I also drew comparisons from some of the present-day egomaniacs that populate our society and news media. Seeing so little of Voight, it was important to embed his personality and character in the design of the mansion. And furthermore, show his desire to “outsmart” the Cenobites in the added architecture on the outside of the mansion and the trapdoor.
Overall, the Hellraiser universe seems to lean or vibe well with art deco and a specific color pallet that we also leaned on heavily. It was an extraordinary challenge to create this mansion, on a very limited budget in a country with very limited access to American mansion-type decorations. This led us to custom-build a lot of the hero furniture and lights.
1428 ELM: How different is it working on a horror project compared to a relatively “normal” story?
KATHRIN EDER: Horror is a very intimate genre. I didn’t realize that until I did The Night House with David. I was terrified of the horror film genre because I have difficulty watching movies that scare me. I will tip-toe around my house for days feeling vulnerable after watching one. So I’ve avoided it.
That being said, the horror genre is a really beautiful opportunity to face difficult human themes in an exaggerated way. We get to deal with things that scare us. And that’s powerful. I’ve very much grown to like it. From a design perspective, I fondly believe that every story deserves detailed world-building. To me, it doesn’t matter what genre the story is set in, there is always interaction between space and character.
1428 ELM: Were there any fun moments making Hellraiser that you can reveal?
KATHRIN EDER: Ahhh, I wish I would remember them. We had a really tight crew and it often felt like the core crew was the musketeers. That was heartwarming and came with a lot of comedic relief.
1428 ELM: Do you have a favorite Cenobite from this film?
KATHRIN EDER: Pinhead, 100%! Even before I knew Hellraiser, I knew the image of Pinhead. Perfect symmetry, perfect design, perfect vulnerability. David Bruckner, Keith Thompson, and Josh, and Sierra Russel (Russel FX) did an amazing job creating Cenobites we haven’t seen before. It was a joy to see the come to life.
1428 ELM: Have there been any horror movies or TV shows that you have recently watched where the production design has particularly stood out to you?
KATHRIN EDER: I loved Pan’s Labyrinth, but I know that’s over a decade ago. I think High Rise looked beautiful – I loved the brutalist elements in it. And Saint Maud was amazing on many levels, probably my recent favorite.
1428 ELM: What are your thoughts on possible sequels to this Hellraiser film?
KATHRIN EDER: Hmmm. They would have such sights to show us.
We’d like to thank Kathrin Eder for answering our questions! The 2022 Hellraiser is still available to watch on Hulu
Did you enjoy the Hellraiser reboot on Hulu? Tell us what you thought about it in the comments section.