In the Hellraiser universe, protagonists and antagonists alike, are forced to come face-to-face with the Cenobites. These extra-dimensional, humanoid creatures are demonic in nature. Each Cenobite bears the scars of their hedonistic essence. This comes in the form of such unpleasant fixtures as a head full of needles and chains are interwoven with their flesh. They desire nothing more than torturing human beings, bringing them into their twisted world of pain and pleasure.
However, the Cenobites, due to the fact that they are usually sequestered to an alternate dimension, are ultimately unable to hurt humans without using trickery. Their primary means of accessing our dimension is through a mysterious puzzle box that, when solved, opens a portal between realities. As such, their devious desires require either a certain amount of human foolishness or a human servant willing to trick others into their demonic clutches.
The recently released Hellraiser reboot continues the franchise’s tradition of using human antagonists to aid in the Cenobites’ debaucherous cravings. Roland Voight is a wealthy hedonist who, after tracking down the aforementioned puzzle box, begins to carry out a series of human sacrifices in order to earn a “reward” from the Cenobites. His psychopathic disregard for human life is a huge contributor to the new movie’s genuinely terrifying storyline, and fans would love to see from where it originated.
The Actor Behind the Role
Roland Voight is portrayed by Croatian actor Goran Visnjic. Audiences may recognize him from his turn as Dr. Luca Kovač in ER, as well as his portrayal of Nikola Tesla in the fourth episode of Doctor Who season 12, “Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror.”
Visnjic’s pitch-perfect performance is a large part of what makes the character of Roland Voight such a bone-chilling antagonist. In one of the opening scenes, for example, a young man is murdered by the Cenobites, and Roland looks on with an expression of mild bemusement, which serves to cement in audiences’ minds his genuine psychopathy. Visnjic’s acting in this and similar scenes is deeply unnerving.
Additionally, for much of the film, Voight is wearing a device that constantly aggravates his nerve endings, putting him in a state of never-ending pain, which makes for a difficult acting challenge that Visnjic absolutely nails.
A Mysterious, Masochistic Millionaire
Nearly every aspect of Roland Voight’s life, aside from his penchant for masochism, is shrouded in mystery, which perfectly sets the stage for a prequel film. It is never explained how he amassed his considerable wealth.
The film opens with Voight’s lawyer meeting with a contact on a beach, where she receives a package that contains the magical puzzle box. Audiences are left wondering how Voight learned about the box in the first place and the undoubtedly convoluted process he must have embarked upon in order to secure it. Shortly after, the movie time skips forward. At a hedonistic party, a sex worker named Joey meanders around Voight’s mansion, ultimately stumbling upon the puzzle box. Voight appears and suggests that Joey solve the puzzle.
When he does, he is immediately pierced by chains and brutally torn apart. The film suggests that Joey was Voight’s final sacrifice to the Cenobites, as he demands his reward from Leviathan, the ruler of Hell. This means that Voight spent years sacrificing innocents to the box, something that could be explored in a potential prequel film.
The Hellraiser franchise has rich lore. Voight’s fascination with the puzzle box and its Cenobite ownership has a lot of room for exploration. It could potentially allow audiences more insight into the nature of the demonic beings.
The Perilous Plight of Pursuing Pain and Pleasure
At the end of Hellraiser 2022, Roland Voight is finally granted his final “reward” from the Cenobites: he is dragged via piercing chains into their dimension. He begins the long and painful process of transforming into a Cenobite. We see a naked Voight stretched out on an altar. His skin is torn from his body, and it serves as the ultimate reminder to audiences exactly what happens when one commits themselves to pleasure, no matter the ethical cost.
As the transformation takes place at the end of the film, it wouldn’t be the primary focus of a potential prequel. However, Voight’s transformation could be interspersed throughout a prequel film, which could be told in the form of an extended flashback. It would be interesting to see his backstory, rife with all the twisted events throughout his life that drove him to masochism, spliced with his painful conversion, which is the ultimate conclusion of his amoral pleasure-seeking behaviors.
Hellraiser 2022 likely represents a turning point for the franchise. It is beautifully stylized and utterly terrifying. If audiences demand more films, a sequel centering around Roland Voight certainly has great potential.