Horror Movie Review: Hellraiser VIII: Hellworld (2005)

Hellraiser: Hellworld is the eighth installment in the Hellraiser franchise and would eventually turn out to be the final time that Doug Bradley would appear on screen as the iconic Pinhead; for now anyway. Hellworld was filmed back to back with Hellraiser: Deader and released the same year (2005), Dimension Films were clearly getting very desperate at this time but you can read how I feel about the way they treated the series and the fans in my previous review. The Hellworld script is based on a short story called “Dark Can’t Breathe,” which means that it originally had nothing to do with Hellraiser but was reworked in an attempt to sell the movie based on its name; this is another example of Dimension knowing how loyal its fans were and taking advantage of it. The film stars Lance Henriksen in the role of the Host. Henriksen had originally been approached to play the role of Frank Cotton in the first film in the series, Hellraiser. Henriksen turned the offer down in favor of a starring role in the vampire thriller Near Dark (1987).

Much like Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Hellworld takes place in the “real world” where the Hellraiser movies are just that, movies.  What makes this world different from our world is the fact that everybody loves all the Hellraiser movies and knows everything about them. Everyone loves the movies so much that they play a game called “Hell World” an MMO like “World of Warcraft” based off the series; the whole concept is not explained in any great detail so it’s honestly quite hard to understand, you just have to go with it.

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The movie opens with a young man digging a hole in his basement floor when suddenly he screams “NO!” and the opening credits begin to role; I dare anyone to watch this scene without laughing. After the lengthy credits which are accompanied by a decent gothic soundtrack we get introduced to a circle of friends who are addicted to playing Hellworld. We see the group at the funeral of Adam; one of their friends who was obsessed with the game and ultimately committed suicide after becoming too immersed in the game (guy digging at the beginning). I wish I could tell you more about Adam or why he killed himself but the movie does a horrible job of giving any back story to him or any other character for that matter. The remaining five friends blame themselves for not having prevented Adam’s suicide and argue over whose to blame. Interestingly, playing the role of ‘Mike’ is none other than Henry Cavill who as we all know would later go on to play ‘Superman’ in ‘Man Of Steel.’

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I guess they get over their guilt quickly though because quickly go back to playing the game immediately. The game itself looks like some sort of DVD menu or something and the only “gameplay” you see is some clicking around to open the puzzle box; basically it sucks. If you can open the box you are given an invitation to a private ‘Hellworld’ party in a huge mansion on Hellbound Drive; I’m not making this up. Mike, Derrick and Allison are enthusiastic about the party, while Chelsea only reluctantly accompanies them. Jake, who is still very much distressed by Adam’s death, only agrees to show up after a female Hellworld player with whom he has struck up an online friendship asks him to attend so they can meet. The quintet are cordially welcomed by the middle-aged party host, who drugs them, I mean offers them an innocent drink. He shows them around the mansion and basement where he keeps his favorite pickled fetus’s and then provides them with cell phones to communicate with other guests.

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Alison, the outcast of the group walks down a hallway where she meets a door marked “Keep Out” so naturally she enters. Inside the room is a bunch of dusty old museum pieces one of them being a torture chair. Like a complete moron she sits on the chair even remarking “Kids don’t try this at home.” Naturally the chair snaps down on her locking her in place as a tiny little saw inches towards her throat and we learn that the host might just not be as welcoming as we first thought. For the first time in half an hour we finally see some real blood as she’s killed by the blades which rip into her throat; the effects are decent and it’s quite gruesome.

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One of the worst things about this movie and it actually goes all the way back to Hellraiser: Hell On Earth is the fact that Pinhead seems to be able to appear any which way he wants to. At one point he kills another member of the group who lies down after nearly having an asthma attack by simply chopping his lead off with a cleaver which is lame in itself. The issue I have is that this character never even opened the box so why did Pinhead kill him? I was under the impression that you had to open the box to warrant his attention. It reminds of a scene from Hell On Earth where Pinhead slaughters an entire nightclub full of people who have done nothing wrong; it turns him into a cheap slasher movie villain and he’s supposed to be so much more.

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Anyway, there are a series of very confusing scenes involving ghosts, sex with a nun and just strange hallucinations. Holing herself up in the attic, Chelsea finds items belonging to Adam, and discovers that the host is his father, who blames his son’s fellow Hellworld players for not helping to break his addiction. The way in which she finds out that Bishop I mean the host is the father is through a photograph of him and Adam happily posing at Adam’s 16th birthday party. This makes little sense when it is maintained afterwards that the host never spent any time with Adam and was a bad father , etc. Why it then that there is a photo of them together looking so close? It makes no sense at all and just isn’t explained.

Mike (Superman) dies in seriously predicate way and eventually reappears along with Allison as a Cenobite which is just stupid and leads to absolutely nothing. Eventually Chelsea and Jake reunite in seriously cheesy fashion and attempt to flee when suddenly the host blocks their path at the top of the stairway. Brace yourself for the stupidest moment in the entire franchise….Ready? Chelsea karate kicks the host in the head and sends him over a railing; falling to his apparent death. Since when is she even capable of doing such things? What was the thinking?

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Chelsea and Jake try to flee, only to discover themselves buried alive and receiving messages from the host via cell phones in their respective caskets. The Host informs them that they are just coming out of a hallucination induced by a powerful psychedelic he exposed them to upon their arrival, and that the events of the evening have been the result of hypnotic suggestion and their own guilty consciences. Before leaving, he lets Chelsea know that Allison, Derrick, and Mike have all perished in their respective caskets, and that only she and Jake remain alive. Chelsea begins to slip into another hallucination when she is abruptly pulled above ground by police and paramedics, who say they were informed by a phone call from Chelsea’s telephone. Looking towards the house, Chelsea sees Adam standing in the window. Ugh so what? Is the movie trying to insinuate that Adam called the police? What sense would that even make!? There are ghosts in Hellraiser movies now? It’s just plain stupid and just shows how blatantly obvious that this was never planned to be a Hellraiser movie originally and that Pinhead, Cenobites and the lament configuration were completely tacked on last minute.

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Later, the Host sits in a bedroom and goes through a suitcase containing Adam’s possessions. He finds and opens an actual Lemarchand’s box, which summons the real Cenobites. Pinhead praises Adam’s ingenuity and mocks the Host’s disbelief before Chatterer and Bound tear him to pieces. Jake and Chelsea are shown driving into the sunrise, when they receive a mysterious phone call from the Host, who suddenly appears in the back seat. The two almost crash the car but are able to stop it. The last scene shows the police entering the bedroom in which the Host opened the box, the walls blood-smeared and the box lying on the floor. Again, what is the movie trying to say? That the host is now haunting Chelsea and Jake? Since when are people who are taken by Pinhead able to do that?

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In part this is a sad story of a man whose lost his son and his misguided rage and they really should have just focused on that and it probably would have been an okay B-horror movie. Attempting to weave Pinhead into the story is really what ruins the movie for me because his inclusion just makes no sense and makes everything you think you understand about Hellraiser very confusing. Also there are far too many things in the film that you to just take for what they are, like the invitations to the Hellworld party for example. How was it that the host was able to set it up so people who opened the box in the game of Hellworld were then given an invitation? Did he create Hellworld or something and how could he even guarantee that the people he wanted at the party would even play and then learn of the party? I guess I’m just over thinking it.

When bishop and Superman can’t save your movie you know you have problems. Hellraiser: Hellworld is the worst Hellraiser out the of the 8 and that’s because out of all of them its barely even a Hellraiser movie at all. It had some potential with the host wanting revenge but as the viewer were really given no real reason to care about any of the characters anyway. I still don’t understand most of what happened in this movie and thats actually because none of it did happen so what’s even the point anyway?  Clive Barker must have been truly pissed that they put his name on this one.

Hellraiser VIII: Hellworld
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    The Final Score - 3/10
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