Film and TV

Why the ‘Hellraiser’ reboot casting a trans actor as Pinhead is so perfect

The David Bruckner (The Ritual) helmed Hellraiser reboot has just had its full cast announced, and the big news is that the film’s legendary villain Pinhead will be played by a female actor for the first time ever.

The Hellraiser reboot, which has been caught in its very own development hell for over a decade, is the latest film to court controversy by recasting a role made famous by a male actor with a female/trans actor. And while knee-jerk criticism is sure to follow, it’s actually a creative masterstroke.

First things first, Hellraiser is the cult 1987 horror film directed and adapted by Clive Barker from his own novella The Hellbound Heart. The central theme of both works is the relationship between pleasure and pain, or more precisely how the line between two related things can blur.

hellraiser reboot
Image: Hellraiser / Film Futures

The film doesn’t stop its examination at sadomasochism though, with Barker picking at the stiches that divide angels from demons, life from death and religion from morality. What the original film didn’t tackle, somewhat surprisingly considering Barker’s position at the forefront of queer creators working in the mainstream, was gender.

Thankfully, the upcoming Hellraiser reboot, which Barker is serving as a hands-on producer on, is looking to correct that. Now let me clarify, I’m not saying that a Hellraiser film needs to examine the fluid line that divides gender, but rather that is seems fertile creative territory that shares a common root with the original works.

Despite the endless stream of shitty sequels that have relied heavily on genre tropes, the original Hellraiser was a canny work of transgressive power. And the fact that Bruckner’s Hellraiser reboot is leaning into that in its own way should be fully embraced.

Hellraiser is concerned with far more fascinating issues than an imposing man with needles sticking out of his face – and if you don’t feel the same way you are welcome to go wallow in the craptacular Hellraiser: Revelations. It has “such sights to show you”.

So now that that’s been covered lets get to the meat of it. Bruckner’s Hellraiser reboot will star Jamie Clayton, who has previously appeared in Sense8 and The L Word: Generation Q, in the Pinhead role.

Other cast members include Brandon Flynn (13 Reasons Why), Selina Lo (Boss Level), Goran Visnjic (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Hiam Abbass (Blade Runner 2049).

The Hellraiser reboot is currently scheduled for a 2022 release on American streaming platform Hulu.