We reach the tail end of our Hellraiser series with number 8 in the franchise Hellraiser: Hellworld. Released an unthinkable and almost impressive 92 DAYS after Hellraiser: Deader was released. Honestly, I can imagine people renting out Deader and then three months later going back to Blockbuster (we had an ExtraVision near us in Belfast) and being flummoxed as to what on Earth was Hellworld doing there. Carl Dupre returned to direct this one with the dreaded Ron Schmidt writing once more. I almost imagine that Schmidt adapted the scripts of all FOUR. Yes four of his Hellraiser’s in one week after getting access to the Dimensions dusty script pile.
Anyway! Most importantly this would be the last time Doug Bradley would portray Pinhead. No matter what you say (and oh my have there have been many a word shared) about the later films. He has tried to keep integrity to the character and his loss in the latest two films is severely felt by audiences. Let’s get into the review, shall we!
A group of young adults, Chelsea (Kathryn Winnick), Mike (Henry Cavill) and others spend their day’s online playing games are invited to a Hellworld secret party in a mysterious mansion owned or run by The Host (Lance Henriksen). As our group roams the vast building during the party one by one they are slowly picked off by Cenobites. Or are they?
To the astonishment of absolutely no one. Schmidt has decided to return to the old hallucination writing plot line that he used a few films previous. This of course goes as you would expect. Instead of having Cenobites properly roam to find people who have opened an online Lament Configuration box. We have moments that are just slasher nonsense. I love me a good slasher film as well, but to be so lazy with it here as they are and to allow the film to have veered so far from what made Hellraiser well Hellraiser, is inexcusable.
The worst thing about this is that there is so much potential in this idea. To have people (perhaps make it a dark web idea game) that people have to purposely look for to play (much like the Lament Configuration in real life). Then our Cenobites can come in and get them. You can even add in the party house idea as it would be this very select group of people who wanted to explore the depths. Even if it is online. Yet, here we are, with a film that just twists itself into borderline parody. Hellraiser: Hellworld almost works. Almost.
It wouldn’t be a good film, but it would have been a standard early 2000s horror involving teens/young adults. That would be sufficient for the era. It is the films before it that allow for the goodwill in this film to dissipate so quickly after the premise has been presented to us. It needs to be noted that Pinhead should only ever utilise the chains so he can rip a person’s soul apart. There should never be a scene with Pinhead merely (I say merely) decapitating someone with a knife. That isn’t him, it has never been him.
The use of Bradley here is horrific. They have stripped his portrayal of Pinhead away to the point that you really can’t recognise him and the 1987 Pinhead. Popping up to scare and kill, instead of being that omnipresent being, waiting for you to make the mistake. His presence and scariness are lost on the audience when he is marketed everywhere. You have to imagine is this more of a film to push out a tonne of merch for Pinhead as Dimension Films probably say goodbye to it for a few years? It feels cheap. We shouldn’t be seeing this in any film.
The performances of Henriksen and Winnick are what drive the film to any remoteness of decency. The cast is helped by Hellraiser: Hellworld seemingly having a proper script that was made on spec. It does make a difference in comparison to the last few entries. Sadly it is just not a good script so anything new about the film is lost to poor dialogue and terrible plotting.
What Hellraiser: Hellworld was influenced by was Saw, which was released a year prior. There are setups here for death scenes that look like the cheapest, ditched trap designs from Saw. It is a bit uninspired if we are honest and that kind of describes the franchise at this point. There are points of ideas that could be something, but the rush to get the films out (four in five years) just stops any possibility for a decent pre-production time to sort out any issues. It is a trend that most franchises had around this time and in the 90s. Just a shame that this and other franchises couldn’t hold their horses with having releases so soon and allow for a good film to come from it. By allowing a good film to be made, it would have driven the franchise to something special.
With Hellraiser: Hellworld, we are left with a film that had the potential to be a great little horror film (even on a DTV budget) yet a lack of production time and an utterly horrible script blew the chances of that away. A shame.
If you enjoyed our review of Hellraiser: Hellworld then feel free to have a read of our review of the previous films from the franchise.
I am but a small website in this big wide world. As much as I would love to make this website a big and wonderful entity that would bring in more costs. So for now all I hope is to make Upcoming On Screen self sufficient enough to where any website fees are less of a worry for me in the future. You can support the website below…
You can support us in a variety of ways (other than that wonderful word of mouth) and those lovely follows. If you are so inclined to help us out then you can support us via Patreon, find our link here! We don’t want to ask much from you, so for now we have limited our tiers to £1.50 and £3.50. These will of course grow the more we plan to do here at Upcoming On Screen.
Thanks for reading, every view helps us out more than you would think (we have fragile egos). Until next time.