Hellraiser: Deader (2005)

Hellraiser: Deader (2005)

The Latest. Most Terrifying Evil.

A journalist is sent to Romania to investigate a group that call themselves the Deadites, led by a charismatic leader who convinces people to kill themselves and states he can then bring them back to life afterwards. One of her clues is the Lament Configuration box, which she happens to open and her journey to hell and the world of the Cenobites begins.

 

Another instalment of the long-suffering Hellraiser franchise comes along which again seems to simply cash in on the Hellraiser name by offering us a stand-alone horror flick with a brief blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-cameo by Pinhead and the Cenobites. It’s no surprise to find out that this didn’t start off as a Hellraiser film and serves to only further the insult made towards the original (and to a lesser extent the first sequel). I applaud the attempts to take the franchise out of the gutter and restore some dignity to the character of Pinhead but this isn’t going to be the film to do so. It’s funny to think that the Hellraiser series has more or less gone in the direction that John Carpenter wanted to take the Halloween series – each film playing as a different entity with only one connection to make between them, in this case being Pinhead. I’m not knocking that idea – I’m knocking the execution of it.

The “is it real or isn’t it?” approach of the last few sequels continues with yet another weird and twisting film that attempts to misdirect your attention numerous times in an valid ploy to confuse and play with your mind. These films have progressively moved away from Clive Barker’s original vision and now focus more on the ‘real or not’ plot which is more in line with A Nightmare on Elm Street and it’s ‘is it a dream or isn’t it?’ stories. The nonsense factor has increased and now these films are more about flashy effects and seeing how confusing they can make the viewer feel. Far too many red herrings are thrown around to get the viewer to question what they are witnessing. At times there’s so many flying around that it’s like a fish farm. The script tries to make itself sound important and give itself some direction but I bet creative had no idea where the film was heading and just went with it. After all, who needs a story when you’ve got dark rooms, dank back alleys and dim corridors – sensing a theme here?

Director Rick Bota has a decent visual style, I’m not knocking that. The film is packed with plenty of grisly imagery and there’s lots of effective lighting and strobes. It’s your typical modern horror with lots of flashing, lots of quick cuts and a frenetic visual style. He’s not afraid to splash the blood around either and there’s a copious amount of naked flesh during the train scenes. But they’re not a substitute for scares. Or cohesive story or script for that matter.

It’s clear that this was made as a separate horror flick but some producer must have come along and thought they could make some extra money out of it if they put in a few minutes of Pinhead and the Cenobites. Their inclusion seems forced, unnecessary and at odds to the rest of the story. They’re an afterthought and a bad one at that. People knocked the first few sequels for focusing on Pinhead as a central character. Whilst I’m not for the guy getting oodles of screen time and being turned into some cheesy Freddy Kruger wannabe, I still want to get my fair share of the guy. After all, he’s arguably the main reason why the original has spawned so many sequels. He’s such a cool, kick ass horror icon that he deserves better. But once again the money men call the shots and Pinhead’s cameo role here is cheap bait to fans of the series like me who will continually be suckered in watching them in the promise that we’ll get more of him.

Kari Wuhrer wastes her obvious talents in the clichéd role of the journalist who will do anything for a story but she’s still arguably the best bit of the film. Even poor Doug Bradley looks fed up as Pinhead. His voice just doesn’t have the same gravitas as it once did and the dialogue he’s given is meaningless drivel. I want him to fire off some of his immortal lines like “We’ll tear your soul apart” and “No tears please, it’s a waste of good suffering.” He has sounded more like a preachy old drunkard in the last couple of films and it just damages his once-awesome character.

 

It’s hard to see what crowd Hellraiser: Deader is supposed to appeal to. There’s little Pinhead in it for die-hard fans. The same ‘screw with your mind’ spiel for the third time in a row will surely send other fans to sleep. And it’s not that spooky or scary, just plenty of glossy visuals instead of scares. Hellraiser: Deader does exactly what it says in the title. Unfortunately this film was Deader than the others.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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