Get ready, Pinheads! In this latest installment of the Hellraiser series, your favorite leather-clad villain and his fellow Cenobites are back in business and in the film for more than five seconds! It’s just too bad that even their increased presence cannot help this at times sloppy foray into Hell.
So much has happened with this series of films over the last decade. Some good, some bad. Filmmakers have tried many different things with the character Pinhead. I was thankful that he got away from becoming another one-liner spewing jokester after the fourth film, Bloodline. Having him back in the shadows and being more mysterious seemed like a worthy turn to take. Overexposure can really take its toll on a horror villain. After a while you get so used to them that they’re just not scary any more. The series itself has also taken some fairly dramatic turns. The Hellraiser films have become more like an episodic serial with a recurring theme and character rather than a continued franchise.
In this latest chapter the world of Hellraiser has been morphed into a virtual online gaming community similar to that of the now very popular World of Warcraft. Gamers get to role play, explore Pinhead’s world, and even unlock the secrets of a virtual Lament Configuration just by clicking a mouse. Once the box is unlocked, the lucky winner(!) gets a printable invitation to the next super secret rave-like Hellworld party. Of course once they get there, things go horrifically wrong. That’s the basic storyline in a nutshell. There’s more to it, but I’d rather not give away any spoilers.
In the far superior Hellraiser: Deader, director Rick Bota proved that he had what it takes not only to helm this series but to get it right. Deader felt like a Hellraiser film. This one does not. Far from it. It just plays as if it’s kind of lost. From your standard mile-a-minute musical stingers to the now oh-so-cliche sped up and slowed down editing to one of the goofiest roundhouse kicks ever thrown (seriously, I winced when I saw it and not because it looked like it hurt!), this film misses its mark more than it comes close to hitting it.
However, the film isn’t without its merits. It’s good to see a bit more of Pinhead and the other Cenobites. Doug Bradley delivers the goods as per usual, and there are some great gore scenes. Throw in a few clever plot twists and devices, and you have yourself a quick little mindless romp — the only problem being that the Hellraiser series has always been a fairly cerebral experience. Again, the feel of the series is just not there. Something is clearly missing from the formula.
As a DVD there’s not much satisfaction to be gained from the package either. The print of the film itself looks fine enough except for when things get even moderately dark. The crispness and deep hues get replaced by a ton of film grain. Extras-wise we get a few sneak peeks at other films, a crew commentary, and a twelve-minute making-of featurette.
Rick Bota is a good director, and somewhere within Hellraiser: Hellworld there’s a film with a lot of potential. It just didn’t come across that way onscreen. Maybe it falls flat because it was shot back-to-back with Deader. Or maybe the filmmakers have just plain gone to the well too many times. At one point in the movie Lance Henriksen’s character utters the line, “It’s just like a bad horror movie, isn’t it?” Gotta agree with him there, but I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of Pinhead. The dark angel is due for redemption. Someone will answer the call. At least I hope.
Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)
Dimension Home Video
Directed by Rick Bota
Starring Doug Bradley, Katheryn Winnick, Lance Henriksen
Ticket to Hellworld: A Behind-The-Scenes Look
2 1/2 out of 5