Hellraiser: Hellworld

Really, Pinhead? Really? This is how you treat me? We’ve come so far, and I’ve given positive reviews to so many of your movies, and this is how you pay me back? I suppose it’s fitting. After being lea down the tempting and Byzantine labyrinths of the Hellraiser franchise, I finally arrive and the final (for now, anyway) installment, only to discover it is the cinematic equivalent of finally solving the puzzle box only to have hooked chains shoot out and rip me to pieces.

Hellraiser: Hellworld is beyond awful and well into the “absolutely unwatchable” territory. I can’t think of a single redeeming thing to say about this horrible movie, with the possible exception of “Well, at least they finally got around to having Lance Henrikson appear in a Hellraiser film.” But that’s hardly enough for this wretched retread of other, equally as bad horror films. The plot this time around goes “meta” — featuring a group of twenty-somethings who play an online Hellraiser themed video game, only to discover that the game may be more real than they realize!!! Oooo! When the players are invited to a special “Hellworld” rave for the hardest core gamers, they find themselves in the mansion of Lance, who spins them a yarn about the house being built by the same Le Merchant who made the Lament Configuration, even though that guy lived and died in France. As the kids wander from one room to another, they are slowly killed off, one by one, in the usual outlandish fashion…or are they???

One of the things I really liked about most of the Hellraiser films is that they were relatively adult. They starred adults, were written for adults (even though, as is the case with most horror, teens still rallied around them). Hellworld immediately turned me off with its shift to following the trend in horror that declares all stars must be in their early twenties and look like they are between seasons for whatever WB program on which they appear. Their characters are about as bad as you would assume, possibly worse, and it’s excruciating to be in the same movie with them. Even the token elder statesman, Lance Henrikson, barely registers, and I’m not sure he even realizes he was in this movie, so tired and uninterested is his performance.

The plot is a mishmash of ideas from other, higher profile movies like the Saw movies. I won’t be so naïve as to suggest that the concept of “torture porn” that defines these newer movies hasn’t always been present to some degree in the Hellraiser movies, but it’s was always one ingredient among many, and it was usually handled, when it was present, in a fairly unusual fashion. But Hellworld is just a dull rehash of all the other torture-porn horror movies with a dash of whichever Halloween movie it was where Michael Myers battled reality television. And then I guess you’d thrown in a bit of House on Haunted Hill, but with everyone tired and bored instead of gleeful and macabre. The twist at the end, rather than being clever, is one of those, “Are you kidding me?” disappointments that renders everything you’ve just watched not only dull and stupid, but also entirely pointless.

As for Pinhead himself, I’ve supported the previous sequels that featured so little in the way of Cenobite action, feeling that they should be sprinkled throughout the film with reserve, waiting to make their big appearance at the end. This film does the same, except that there’s even less on hand, and when he does appear, Pinhead has no reason at all to be there. And once you have the twist spelled out for you, his appearance makes even less sense. On top of that, when he and his crew finally do appear, it’s for a singularly uninspired, uninteresting, and unimportant conclusion. This is where you’ve ended up, Pinhead? Shouldn’t you be spending your time tempting, I don’t know, heads of state and priests and such, instead of some no-name jerk in cheap motel room? I mean, I know he hasn’t been aiming high, even in the first film, but Pinhead really seems to be slumming this time around.

Director Rick Bota proved that he had the stuff to make a good Hellraiser film with Deader, so I’m laying blame for this chunk of garbage squarely on the shoulders of screenwriters Carl Dupre and Joel Soisson, both of whom have written an impressive number of really boring horror films, including involvement in the one Hellraiser sequel I absolutely hated, Hellseeker. Even though they both have experience, they seem content to merely mimic other horror films, and so turn the Hellraiser franchise into another lame teens-and-torture exercise in tedium. I’m sure when the Saw franchise eventually goes direct-to-video, these guys will be tapped to write screenplays for it that will make even non-fans of the Saw films like me realize how good by comparison the theatrically released films were. Really, as a fellow writer, I don’t like to be harsh to other writers, but these guys? They’re just terrible, albeit terrible and successfully employed. It’s too bad they weren’t kept far away from Hellraiser, because the two times they’ve touched it, they’ve turned the franchise to utter crap.

For starters, any horror movie that includes the line, “This is like a bad horror movie,” should instantly not get made.

I suppose someone out there might be able to mine some sort of entertainment from this dreary mess, even if it’s of the “so bad it’s good” variety, but I’m not this person. If they make another one, here’s hoping they look back on what was done right in movies like Deader, Inferno, and Bloodline (to say nothing of, you know, the original film) and forget that Hellworld ever even existed.

19 thoughts on “Hellraiser: Hellworld”

  1. I hate when they do this to good names. Those damn money hungry mongers. They take the name and make something generic and boring to make some quick cash. It is always the case :). To bad it happens to almost any good film out there… Even Indiana Jones are going down that same hill to say the least.

  2. Joel Soisson’s one of those guys who can write a real stinker and then produce something else that’s, if not good, just what the project demands. It’s weird.

    On a totally unrelated note: what happened to the review of Diary of the Dead? It was a much-deserved evisceration.

  3. I must be in the “so bad it’s good” category. I can watch just about anything and find pleasure it in. I guess that happens to a person when the only movie at their daycare is Beaches & Rad.

    I recall enjoying the end, as it’s one of my biggest fears.

  4. I was watching this and kept thinking,”ok, something neat is coming…. ok, not quite yet, ok… maybe next…. ok, ending” What! This movie actually made me angry for wasting my time. Hellraiser 2 is probably in my top 10, I liked 1 & Bloodlines, 3 sucked, the others ehh. This one was just so… arrg! I think my spleen exploded at the end.

  5. Aw dreck. I still need to watch part 2(still only on part 1) but I was hoping I’d like this one.

    *sigh* I’m actually a fan of the “Saw” movies, even though they’re getting worse and worse. However, all these imitations have REALLY gotten old.

    Still, they’re not as annoying as the “Hostel” imitations. I’m still not even sure if I liked “Hostel” or not……at the least, I’d say it’s overrated.

    I miss the days when movies would rip-off “Friday the 13th” or “Halloween”….because then every once in awhile you’d get a decent slasher(like “The Burning”). But this torture-porn stuff has gotten old.

  6. What stood out to me the most throughout this movie was how generic most of the killings were. Virtual reality/Not really cenobite discussion aside, i remember thinking, “did pinhead really just kill somebody with a machete?” Also, “did that cenobite really just need to throw a lever to move the chain?” It was lacking almost completely in the imagery that makes the Hellraiser series the Hellraiser series.

  7. There’s another thing about Hellword that really annoyed me: why oh why is it that nobody who makes a horror film that uses videogames for something does even know the first thing about them? That’s not how they play, that’s not how they look, you’re doing it wrong, Hollywood guy!
    I’d think games would be one of the easiest things to get right, what with them being quite pervasive parts of our culture.

  8. Oh, next you’re going to tell me that hacking computers doesn’t result in lots of swirling 3D skulls and slamming gates and fractals spinning across your screen as the words “Access Denied!” or “Access Granted!” spiral in and out.

  9. Kieth said…
    One of the things I really liked about most of the Hellraiser films is that they were relatively adult. They starred adults, were written for adults.

    I thought that was exactly the point: The Cenobytes were only interested in people mature enough, experienced enough, jaded enough, decadent enough and bored enough with all of the excesses that the World has to offer, and would therefore seek out hell, just for a new experience. This is the way they amuse themselves, and occasionally seek out new cenobytes. When you are presented with characters whose idea of an otherworldly mind-blower would be a stroll along St.Marks’ or Niewmarkt, it’s hard to get behind just what Pinhead sees in them….

    Uncle Frank would not be impressed.

  10. HouseInRlyeh said….
    I’d think games would be one of the easiest things to get right, what with them being quite pervasive parts of our culture.

    Well….I know fuck-all about computer games. But if I were writing a movie script based around one, you bet your life I’d find someone to get advice from. That kind of laziness in really unforgivable. Aren’t writers supposed to be researchers too?

  11. There were no trademark chains and hooks in the face! No hooking the skin! That one kill in the basement to the moron doesn’t count. THIS WAS NOT A HELLRAISER MOVIE!! (at least that’s what I’m going to pretend.)

  12. Apparently a new Hellraiser movie just came out, and the guy who usually plays Pinhead isn’t in it….and it’s supposed to be the worst of the franchise…yikes.

  13. I have it lying around but have yet to work up the courage to watch it. Apparently it has the double whammy of being not just another cheap Hellraiser sequel, but another cheap Hellraiser sequel made solely so the studio could retain the rights to the franchise.

  14. I just saw it and fuck me, that was bad. I had heard that its more of a dumb slasher than it is a Hellraiser film, but Im partial to dumb slashers (I liked ALL of the Friday the 13th films dammit!), so I thought it might be tolerable.. But this was just irritating.

    It’s just a REALLY stupid slasher film that fumbles everything every step of the way. I’m pretty sure real life hardcore gamers are not as sexy as the ones in this party. The game, based off what they show, looks REALLY fucking boring and yeah, Lance himself isn’t trying at all.

    The only thing I disagree with in your review is I think the director deserves a lot of the blame too. The previous Hellraiser films (even the dumber ones) wanted to be unsettling and atmospheric, even when they failed (3 and 6). This one wanted to be more badass (like a typical slasher, where we root for the kills), so they have rock music playing when people die. The tone was just…off.

    I liked the ending in concept, but it just didn’t work. Too much nonsensical explaining and too many fake endings.

    Ugh, this movie made me angry…..and Revelations is supposed to be worse! I guess I’ll post what I thought about that one here, when I see it.

  15. I SAW IT! It’s bad, veeery bad. It is technically the worst Hellraiser entry in the franchise but honestly, I didn’t hate it…..

    I think my expectations were so low that its few good traits were pleasant surprises. The gore is actually decent, for example, and it tries to return to the themes present in the first few films (Pinhead being more of a seeker of forbidden pleasures through pain instead of a demon bent on world domination).

    Unfortunately, like Hellraiser 3, the acting/dialogue is too bad to make it work and the direction is rather….flat.

    I guess I can’t be angry with it because I knew it would suck. Sometimes I feel like a seeker of forbidden pleasures through pain myself when it comes to crap movies.

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