Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)

*. I think of this movie as forming the second part of a triptych with the previous film Hellraiser: Inferno and the next one up, Hellraiser: Deader. All three were made out of scripts that weren’t written as Hellraiser movies but instead were adapted to include cameo appearances by Pinhead. All three are psychological horror stories, with protagonists wrestling personal demons while on a nightmarish quest of self-discovery. This one and Inferno are more like Jacob’s Ladder and Angel Heart than anything in the Hellraiser mythology.
*. That said, I did sort of enjoy Inferno. At least the first half was pretty interesting. But Hellseeker is a total waste.
*. I wish it weren’t so. I like Dean Winters and have found him quite watchable in everything I’ve seen him in. But there is absolutely nothing interesting going on here. In Inferno the main character was a police detective tracking what seemed to be a serial killer (I’m still not sure what was really going on, and perhaps it was all a dream). In this film Winters plays a cubicle monkey who gets in a car accident and loses his wife and his memory. As the film proceeds things start coming back to him. But not fast enough. I was praying for Pinhead to show up just to break the tedium.
*. Everything here is a letdown from Inferno. Pinhead’s back-up band of Cenobites have nothing to do and have an uninspired look. They’re nothing like the tongue twins in the previous movie. Meanwhile, Pinhead himself seems even more awkwardly shoehorned into the plot than usual. Though there’s a surprising connection to the first two films with the return of Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence, who I didn’t even recognize at first). It turns out the plot hinges on her making yet another deal with Pinhead, which doesn’t work out so well for her sleazy husband.
*. It looks, and indeed was, very cheaply made, but doesn’t have any of the creepy, Lynchian chills of Inferno. What it has instead is that bane of 1980s VHS thrillers: girls in sexy underwear having simulated sex. Incredibly, low-level employee Trevor (Winters) is a babe magnet. So off come the clothes for some of the most unerotic lovemaking ever seen.
*. There’s no point spending more time on this one. It’s crap. Basically Winters wanders around having a bunch of (supposedly) scary visions that he snaps out of whenever they’re about to reach a climax. This happens so many times you stop paying attention and only want the nightmares to come to an end. Which, by my reckoning, wasn’t nearly soon enough.

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