Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker
Ehh, ya lost me, Hellraiser. I was with you through part five. I mean, sure, part three was pretty stupid, but it was enjoyably stupid. And I thought that parts four and five put you back on track. But the wheels sort of come off the wagon with part six. As with part three, this one promises us something big then never delivers. With part three, it was “pinhead wages war on earth!” That meant that Pinhead caused some manholes to erupt on a backlot set. This time around, we’re promised the return of Kirsty (Ashley Lawrence), the woman who battled the Cenobites at their meanest in the first two films. What we end up with is a cameo appearance that is so wrong-headed it’ll make you happy it’s only a cameo appearance. The only person in this film less than her is Pinhead. Where as part three was hilariously bad, this one is just dull and lifeless.
When I reviewed part five, I said I actually like having Pinhead be an ominous presence throughout the movie with his actual appearance reserved for when it really matters. But that only holds true if you operate under the assumption that the rest of the movie is filled with other weird stuff building up the final reveal of Pinhead set to his obligatory “Pinhead has revealed himself!” blast of bombastic orchestration. Part five, I thought, did that, giving us a gruesome serial killer movie with surreal Cenobites and oddness sprinkled throughout. Part six is basically that movie again, but instead of a disillusioned cop and creepy Cenobite chicks, it’s a douchebag in an office cubicle.
Said douchebag is Kirsty’s husband, Trevor (Dean Winters), recently recovered from a car crash in which she was apparently killed, though no body has yet been recovered, and police rightfully smell something a tad fishy. Aside from suffering some memory loss, Trevor is plagued by hallucinations and dreams that result in almost every single scene of this movie ending with him inhaling deeply and snapping out of an hallucination or dream. Slowly, and largely moving backward through time as Trevor discovers clues to what really happened, (someone apparently watched Memento just before writing this script), the whole horrible nature of his being is revealed, setting us up for Pinhead’s arrival on the scene (which, thanks to the fact that actor Doug Bradley is just a regular person and not an S&M demon, proves that even Pinhead can put on a few extra pounds as he gets older).
Like I said, this is basically a much more boring version of the last film, complete with the “is the main character the murderer?” pseudo-mystery, with a much less likable character who also happens to be a whole hell of a lot more boring. I don’t mind a prick as long as he’s an interesting prick. There’s also very little of the surreal imagination that highlighted the last film. Almost everything takes place in a plain old apartment or, even worse, in a cubicle at the office. The over-reliance on the “it’s a dream within a hallucination within a dream within…” gets old really fast and serves very little purpose beyond letting the film spin its wheels long enough to pad out to a decent running time. I will admit that the gradual uncovering of Trevor’s character and the events that lead to Kirsty’s disappearance represent a halfway decent idea, but there’s so little gas left in the tank propelling us toward the inevitable “guy with hook chains in his chest and face” conclusion that it becomes pretty hard to care or even notice if this surprisingly milquetoast entry is doing anything right.
Worst of all, though, is the tremendously lame “final confrontation” between Pinhead, lord of Hell, and Kirsty, the uppity gal who has twice defeated him and even caused him to remember his previous human form. You’d think that there would be something epic about this third and final meeting, but it ends up going a little like Pinhead saying, “At last, I have tracked you down!” to which she replies, “Wouldn’t you rather harvest the souls of a few other people with whom you have no prior history,” to which Pinhead has no response beyond basically shrugging and going, “Yeah, all right.” Really? That’s the confrontation? After finally coming face to face with his mortal enemy, Pinhead is willing to swap possession of her in exchange for fucking with her husband instead? I guess Pinhead hates an office douchebag as much as the next guy, but when Hellraiser crosses into territory best left mined by Office Space, something has gone wrong. I don’t need to see Pinhead hanging out by the vending machine, sipping coffee from a paper cup and saying stuff like, “God, I hate Trevor. Did you hear him during the last staff meeting? What a jerk. So, did you watch The Mentalist last night?”
Plus, and this is not a reflection on you personally if it happens to be your name, but the lord of pain cannot be successfully combated by a guy named Trevor.
After being pleasantly surprised by both parts four and five, I actually let my hopes get a up a little for this one, and cruel demon that he is, Pinhead used that to torture me. Build my hopes up, then give me a boring movie. Truly he is a master of pain. Director Rick Bota was a cinematographer before directing this and the next two installments in the series. He doesn’t show the eye for a good scene that most cinematographers-turned-director usually show. Everything here is so…flat. Dull. Every frame is sapped of all energy and imagination, much like the DVD cover, which is yet another picture of Pinhead’s head. Screenwriter Carl Dupre is also a fish out of water — an editor doing the script. From what I gather, both this and the previous film were existing scripts that got retooled to be Hellraiser movies. In part five, it worked pretty well. This time out, though, there’s just nothing there.
Still, the good thing about this entry in the series is that it’s so bland it becomes very easy to forget. So out of sight, out of mind, and we can move on to the next one. And that has Kari Wuhrer in it, which is always the very best and very worst of signs.