Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)

Hellraiser - Hellworld (2005)

Evil Goes Online.

A group of friends, who log onto the Hellworld.com website, open a computerised version of the Lament Configuration box and are invited to a secret Hellworld party with other users. Here they are greeted by a creepy host who tells them that they can drink and indulge in pleasures of the flesh all they like. Their troubles have only just begun though when they begin to experience nightmarish hallucinations and begin to get picked off one-by-one.


The Hellraiser franchise has to have suffered one of the worst track records when it comes to horror sequels and general destruction of its own self from within. The series’ fall from grace from being a shocking journey into pain and pleasure in the superb original to being little more than a gimmick for seemingly stand alone horror films is rather pathetic and disheartening. Granted all horror franchises suffer from diminishing returns as their sequels progress – it can’t be helped because it’s the same thing over and over again. The trouble with Hellraiser is that the last couple of sequels were not written exclusively as sequels – some Einstein decided to slap a bit of Cenobite action into some generic horror scripts so that fans of the originals would shell out hard cash to see what Pinhead and co. were still up to in the 00s. It’s clear as day that this has been the case and it makes for uneven viewing. Hellraiser: Hellworld probably gets the worst rap out of the lot of the sequels (well until the abomination that was Hellraiser: Revelations) but I don’t mind it.

Marginally better than the previous couple of Hellraiser flicks, Hellraiser: Hellworld only scores points in that it moves slightly away from the standard mind warping plots of “is it real or isn’t it?” into something a little more modern. Hellraiser: Hellworld is infinitely more watchable than the last few sequels put together because it ditches the confusing nightmare and dream sequences and gets back to basics. The film has come in for a lot of negative pres and you have to ask why?

Maybe it’s the fact that this is the first Hellraiser film to become self-aware. Like Freddy Vs Jason added the Scream-style self-awareness to its respective franchises, this is the first time that the characters in a Hellraiser film actually know what is happening and what to expect. They expect to see Pinhead when they open the box. They question what is happening to them when they haven’t been impaled with chains. They understand the mythology surrounding the Lament Configuration Box. But they don’t believe it all. That’s the crucial point. They think that it’s only a stupid online RPG game that they’ve been playing even though the audience knows better. This is a more straightforward plot which doesn’t allow for a lot of scope but I was getting sick of the previous sequels attempts to confuse and contradict the viewer. It’s time to simplify this franchise and that’s what this instalment does, for better or for worse.

There’s some quick plot explanation at the start to set us up for the party and once the main characters arrive, it basically turns into a haunted house flick where they all separate and are killed off one-by-one. Cue your modern horror obsessions with rapid editing, plenty of strobe lights, rock music, smoke machines and all of the trimmings. It may all look fancy but there’s not a great deal of substance to it. We know what is coming from the set pieces. We know which characters are going to survive and which aren’t. Predictabilty is this film’s second biggest problem after the unnecessary addition of the Hellraiser label and forced inclusion of the Cenobites.

Whilst we’re at it, we might as well talk about them. Pinhead and the Cenobites are back here, although his screen time is once again limited to a few clichéd lines (he practically says the same thing in every film) and he’s nowhere near the demonic leader he was before. Though the Cenobites manage to get down-and-dirty for a change and actually do the killing themselves (since when did they become slashers?) The original two films had the Cenobites portrayed as sado-masochistic creatures from another dimension with some strange religious connotations and a desire to inflict pain upon people for their pleasure. Now they have become no better than Freddy Kruger or Michael Myers – simply gimmick figures who kill people in ludicrous ways. The loss of their aura and mystique is one of the main reasons why the series went rapidly downhill after the first two films. Any shred of integrity had long gone from the characters so I don’t see the problem in attempting to give them something new to do here. The Cenobites had already been sent into space, so why not send them into cyberspace?

I’ve been harsh on Lance Henriksen for starring in films like Mind Ripper before and most of his recent work has just been bit parts in tacky horror films like Mangler 2: Graduation Day but his presence here is most welcome and he gives the film a truly menacing tone as the creepy host of the party. The teen cast is your usual array of good-looking twentysomethings with no personalities whatsoever although Kathryn Winnick is amazing. I just love this woman. Beautiful and a talented actress t boot – just a pity she’s starred in a few of these low budget horror films (Amusement anyone?)

In fact it is probably this teen actor element that has turned many of the fans hostile towards this film – the Hellraiser series could always be relied upon for mature characters getting into bother with the Cenobites. So it’s somewhat refreshing to see Pinhead hook up with some teenagers for a change (instead of obnoxious adults) and show Jason and Freddy a thing or two. Doug Bradley makes his swansong as Pinhead and it’s a bit of a poor way to go out considering how good the character was in the first two films.


Hellraiser: Hellworld is a decent film on its own feet and it’s the only the addition of the Hellraiser tag and the presence of the Cenobites which is getting it so much hate. It’s a refreshing change of direction from the previous couple of instalments, arguably the most original sequel since Bloodline and is definitely a lot better than other critics are ranting about.





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