Hellraiser: What Happened to Voight?

Whether you call it pleasure or pain, the Hellraiser universe there are some things worse than death left to experience...

Goran Visnjic as Roland Voight in Hellraiser (2022)
Photo: Hulu

This article contains spoilers for Hellraiser (2022).

Hulu and David Bruckner’s updated take on Hellraiser deepens the lore of the franchise in gruesome ways, setting up inevitable new stories and sights yet unseen in the Cenobite saga. The unsavory fates of struggling addict Riley (Odessa A’zion) and monstrous billionaire Voight (Goran Visnjic) we see at the end of the movie act as parables of sorts, illustrating in different ways how one’s obsession with life’s excesses can ultimately lead to an existence defined by pain.

“Pain,” of course, is a multi-dimensional word in the Hellraiser universe. Voight and Riley are both driven to the brink of madness by the pain they’ve endured, but the paths to their respective encounters with the Cenobites couldn’t have been more different. Riley, unwilling to take accountability for how her actions affect those around her (losing her brother being the ultimate consequence), leaves a trail of death on her way to confront the Cenobites and unlock the Lament Configuration puzzle box’s final form. And at the end of things, she arrives at an earth-shattering epiphany that changes the course of her life forever…more on that in a bit.

Voight, on the other hand, knew exactly what he was doing when he initially sacrificed innocent victims to the puzzle box, as is evidenced by Joey’s demise at the beginning of the film. We find out later that Voight sought an audience with the Cenobites because he believed that, through his wealth and influence, he’d experienced all the pleasures life had to offer and yearned for further unknown delights that were eternal. When the Cenobites offered him a choice between the six configurations, he chose Liminal, the “Sensation” configuration, which he expected would grant him unending bliss.

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Unfortunately for Voight, he misinterpreted the gift completely. It wasn’t eternal pleasure he’d be granted by the Cenobites, but unbridled pain, manifested in being permanently impaled by a golden contraption lodged into his torso, which periodically stretches and yanks on his exposed nerves like new guitar strings to show him more pain than he’s ever felt in his life. Unwilling to accept his new unbearable existence, he pays Trevor (Drew Starkey) to manipulate others into feeding the box again so that he can ungift the not-so-awesome “sensation” the Cenobites bestowed on him. “Fuck your gift!” he screams at their end, all while their infernal golden contraption continues to churn away at his insides.

And yet again, ol’ Voight is met with some less than ideal news: The Cenobites have a strict no take-backs policy. But they are in the business of making exchanges, giving him the opportunity to trade his Liminal gift for another. He is persuaded to choose “Leviathan,” the Power configuration, a gift that—surprise, surprise—doesn’t end up being all that great either. Upon making his decision, the Liminal machine disassembles and falls to the polished floor of his mansion. But before he has a chance to bask in the freedom he thinks he’s regained, the iconic Hellraiser chains come down from the heavens to sink their hooks into him and hoist him up into the beyond.

Voight Is Now a Cenobite

Later, we see Voight bathed in heavenly light, rendered nude and bald, fastened to a floating contraption that moves him into a crucificial pose before invisible strings pull back strips of skin all over his pale, dry body before the corners of his mouth are ripped to the side, unveiling an eternal Mona Lisa smile that may become genuine or not depending on whether Voight embraces his new life as a Cenobite, dispensing precious pain on others as it was dispensed to him. But honestly? After however many days (years?) have passed since we last saw him, he now appears to be kind of into it.

As we learn, in the rebooted Helraiser universe, choosing the Power/Leviathan gift is how one becomes a Cenobite.

It’s interesting to juxtapose Voight’s rebirth as a Cenobite with the origin of Doug Bradley’s Pinhead we see in Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988). In that movie, we see Bradley’s Capt. Elliot Spencer solve the Lament configuration sometime shortly after the First World War (in the original series the puzzle box only had one configuration). Afterward, he is immediately dragged into the beyond by the chains, just like Voight.

But he’s not lifted to the heavens in a bath of light—rather, he’s isolated in darkness, hatch marks cut into his head before his signature pins are hammered deep into his skull. He winces in pain, but in the close-ups of his mouth, it almost looks as though he’s smiling. The scenes mirror each other in fascinating ways. Do the Cenobites spring froth from heaven or hell? It may be that they exist in the nether, on the razor’s edge between good and evil, pleasure and pain.

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Riley’s fate is unique in that it happens to be earthbound. After choosing to sacrifice her two-faced beau Trevor for the last configuration instead of Colin (Adam Faison), she’s faced with the same choice Voight was. As opposed to opting for the Lazarus configuration to allegedly bring back her brother, she instead rejects the offer, which by default means she chooses Lament, the life configuration. This forces her to confront and endure the fact that her decisions have damaged those around her in ways that she can never take back.

It’s far from a happy ending for Riley. She’ll have to live every day stewing in the fact that she cost innocent people their lives. But for the first time, she’s taking accountability for her actions. It’s a painful, indelible, cold reality, but at least she’s owned up to the fact that she’s created it herself. It’s a sobering, brutally honest analogy for struggles with addiction that people live with every day.

Voight’s story represents the other side of the coin. As the saying goes, hurt people hurt people, and there are plenty of Voights in the world who stomp on others for their own benefit or pleasure, without remorse, which in truth only serves to reveal them to be the most tortured of us all.