‘Hellraiser’ Director David Bruckner Details the Process of Bringing the New Puzzle Box to Life [Interview]

Director David Bruckner reteams with The Night House writers Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski for a new, highly anticipated installment of Hellraiser, now streaming only on Hulu.

In HellraiserOdessa A’zion stars as Riley, “A young woman struggling with addiction comes into possession of an ancient puzzle box, unaware that its purpose is to summon the Cenobites, a group of sadistic supernatural beings from another dimension.”

That puzzle box features six configurations, each offering a new puzzle to solve and a sharp hook that demands a blood sacrifice. It’s a brand-new iteration of the iconic puzzle box, which meant multiple variations to create for the film.

Speaking with Bloody Disgusting, Bruckner talked about the talent involved in the new puzzle box’s creation and juggling multiple iterations for the screen.

Bruckner’s search for the puzzle box’s concept artist led him to the realm of video games.

Martin Emborg, he’s a video game designer,” Bruckner tells us. “He designed this game called ECHO that is very Hellraiser-y in its imagery. [Production Designer] Kathrin Eder had referenced his work in her pitch to the studio to get the job. Then [Concept Artist] Keith Thompson had also referenced his work. We’d all done all these deep internet dives, and we were pulling from all the Hellraiser art that was present and just trying to explore what hit us. We kept coming across this guy, Martin Emborg. So, we just reached out to him and said, ‘We love your work. What would you do if you were going to design the box? How would you approach it?’ We instantly hit it off, and he understood the weight of taking on a Hellraiser project and what this would be.”

Hellraiser Lament hulu

With the box’s new designer on board, Bruckner detailed the lengthy process of designing and bringing it to life.

He explains, “We spent many, many months on remote, and he took on the near impossible task of creating six iterations that are also puzzles that can be solved, and then also sculpting the way they transform. There’s an order to the transformations. It’s not just a crazy Rorschach of shapes every time it happens. You have to find your way to it. A lot of his designs along that path, in the moments where we have to employ a little bit of CGI, were also a roadmap for the visual effects artists.

“So yeah, there’s a lot of thought put into the box. I should also say that this company, Machinarium, they were the one that brought it into the real. This is a prop house based in London, and they had the impossible task of creating it. We probably had maybe 30 boxes of different moving parts and formations by the end.”

Hellraiser may keep the lore vague on screen, but the mythology runs deep for this reimagining. So much so that the box’s function and lore alone are extensive.

There’s this enormous document that represents every single transformation and movement,” Bruckner tells us. “Since Martin couldn’t be on set, I was the box whisperer. I was the one who was always ‘Stage Eight Laments. We’ve got the wrong one. We’ve got to port it over; We’ve got to get it here now.’

“They really did a wonderful, wonderful job with it. It’s reflective. We talked a lot about the ore that it was created of and what mysterious properties that would be, and that it would be a confluence of maybe three different materials. There’s a real weight to boxes. You can feel that in the actor’s hands. One of my favorite things about making a genre film and doing things practically is that you spend a lot of time talking conceptually about what you’re after. Then we all show up on set, and you’re under the impossible duress of the filmmaking process. It’s always too ambitious. You never have enough resources. But when you can put an ancient puzzle box in someone’s hand for real, something comes to life for all of us at that moment.

“I like to think and hope that the little bit of magic of that comes across on screen.”

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