Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)

*. There was a time, it didn’t last long or produce much, when movies thought they could “do” video games. This was before movies became video games, meaning their visual and narrative style (as well as some of their plot lines and characters) were imported from the video game form. The Resident Evil franchise, for example, is based on a series of video games, but more than that it’s a series of video game movies. Video games provide their aesthetic.
*. Hellworld seems like it’s going to be one of these early video game movies because the conceit is that the characters we meet are all players of an online game called Hellworld which draws on the Hellraiser franchise. I’m not sure if the game is based on the movies or if, in this world, there are any movies. But the basic Hellraiser mythology is part of the game, so everyone knows about Lemarchand’s Configuration (the box) and who Pinhead is. One of them even wears a Pinhead t-shirt.
*. I only say it seems like it’s going to be a video game movie because the game itself doesn’t play any role in the film aside from being an excuse to bring this bunch of characters together at a Hellword party held in some creepy mansion and hosted by Lance Henriksen. “There’s something really strange going on in this house,” says the last girl long after she should have figured that out.
*. The tag line was “Evil Goes Online” but in fact nobody goes online. We barely see anyone playing the Hellworld game and none of the people we meet seem remotely like gamers. They’re basically just franchise fans. In other words, Hellworld is set up to be something new to the Hellraiser franchise: a dead teenager movie. We see the young people (Henry Cavill plays one of them) being separated and dispatched individually. As per the usual idiot plot they behave like total imbeciles (my favourite is the girl who sprays herself in the face with perfume). In addition to his chains and hooks Pinhead grabs a meat cleaver and other weapons and turns into a Jasonesque slasher. There are lots of boobies, plenty of simulated sex, and a little blood. The name of the last girl is Chelsea. I don’t think any of this signals an advance.
*. The book Henriksen (credited only as the Host) has on top of his desk is A Dictionary of Conservative and Libertarian Thought by Nigel Ashford and Stephen Davies (Routledge, 1991). I tried to think of something to make out of that but couldn’t come up with anything.
*. The most remarkable thing about Hellworld is that it might actually be worse than Deader, the previous movie in the series. Though to be honest we’re only talking about different flavours of shit. Director Rick Bota has a very small bag of tricks and techniques, and if you hadn’t seen enough of them after the last two Hellraiser movies you will after five minutes of this one.
*. It might have been a bit of fun. There was potential in the premise, which winds up with a twist so far-fetched it almost made me laugh. Really, if you try to work it out it makes no sense at all. I think if I hadn’t been so angry at that point I might have got a chuckle out of it. But this isn’t even a good bad movie. It’s just a piece of garbage that must have seemed at the time to have put the final nail in the franchise coffin. I mean, could things get any worse?
*. Well, they did get worse. Maybe some day I’ll pick up on the series (still ongoing as of this writing) and do some more commentary. But for now this is my stop and I’m getting off.

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