Sunday, September 30, 2012

Eight is Enough: "Hellraiser: Hellworld" (2005)

The "Hellraiser" film series comes to a merciful end with this eighth installment, which is the worst film of the entire collection.

Like "The Big Chill," a group of friends gather for the funeral of a friend- Adam (Stelian Urian). The friends, and Adam, are all obsessed with the online video game "Hellworld," but back down a bit when it comes out that Adam killed himself because of the game. Sullen Jake (Christopher Jacot) blames Adam's death on the other four friends: jerk heroine Chelsea (Katheryn Winnick), jerk Mike (Henry Cavill), other jerk Derrick (Khary Payton), and awkward female Goth jerk Allison (Anna Tolputt).

Two years later, the group are still playing the game "Hellworld" once in a while, when they enter a Hellworld level where they are invited to an exclusive Hellworld party at an isolated Hellworld mansion. Allison, Mike, Chelsea, and Derrick arrive at the mansion and are greeted by the unnamed Host (Lance Henriksen, who looks so bored he should take a nap). The Host shows the group of friends around (now joined by still sullen Jake) the old house, telling of its history as a crazed convent, and then a lunatic asylum. The party stumbles on, complete with awful rock music. The friends are given cell phones to use to contact other partygoers they want to hook up with, and then they find themselves being separated and killed in gruesome "Saw"-like ways. Adam's ghost pops up, as does Pinhead (Doug Bradley), until the confessional finale that still doesn't make much sense.

Director Rick Bota returns for this final installment, and like "Hellraiser: Deader," he takes a script that was not a part of the "Hellraiser" series, and throws Pinhead and some Cenobites in the mix. Voila! "Hellraiser" direct-to-video sequel! "Hellrasier: Deader" was saved from one-star notoriety by Kari Wuhrer but "Hellraiser: Hellworld" has no strong performance to anchor itself to. I am trying to remember the last time I disliked a cast of characters so much. While Chelsea is the heroine, I came to hate all of these people from the opening scene at Adam's funeral. Carl Dupre must have written the screenplay with a slang dictionary by his side, as the viewer is assaulted with lines like: "kids, don't try this at home," "as if," "how's it hangin'," "yes!," "not good," and "that's what I'm talking about!" (twice). Henriksen wanders around, not having a clue about his character, and just embarrasses himself.

Instead of flashbacks, Bota now pads his film with a few seconds of slow motion every so often for no reason whatsoever. The rock soundtrack is headache inducing. The film was shot in Romania, which makes a poor substitute for New York (watch Chelsea's car's license plates change from New York to European and back again). Gary J. Tunnicliffe's makeup effects are gory and violent, but I found myself thinking of better horror films as the cast was decapitated or put on a giant meat hook.

"Hellraiser: Hellworld" ends on a low note, with no sequel forthcoming (thank God). At one point during the film, the Host asks Chelsea "it's like a bad horror movie, isn't it?"...Lance, you have no idea. Rest in cinematic peace, Pinhead. (*) out of five stars.