Originally released straight-to-DVD in 2005, Hellraiser: Hellworld is the eighth film in the Hellraiser franchise. Starring genre veteran Lance Henriksen, Hellraiser: Hellworld was directed by Rick Bota, who also directed Hellraiser: Hellseeker and Hellraiser: Deader. With a solid lead and director, you would think that Hellraiser: Hellworld would be at least a worthwhile entry in the franchise, but the bottom line is that this movie is among the weakest in terms of story, acting, and overall tension.
Hellraiser: Hellworld takes its story from a short story titled “Dark Can’t Breathe,” by Joel Soisson, which was adapted kicking and screaming into the “Hellraiser” world. The story chronicles a group of geeks and nerds who are obsessed with an online computer game known as “Hellworld,” which features incidents and characters from the original movie. It turns out that the game can negatively affect the minds of its players. One such player, Adam, commits suicide as a result of the game, and the film opens with his friends attending his funeral.
The movie jumps ahead several years, with the core group of friends now trying to become adults in the real world. However, all of them are invited to a Hellworld rave at a reclusive tycoon’s mansion. This tycoon, simply known as Host (Henriksen), has the funds to throw a stellar affair, one filled with all the gothic and horror trappings of the game.
But not all is as it seems. At first the Host is very gracious, but soon he turns malevolent, trapping and torturing the young people who were close friends of Adam. Without explanation, Pinhead and a new version of the Chatterer cenobite (Chatterer III) also begin to torment and murder the young people. These poor souls soon discover that the mansion was a former convent and asylum orchestrated by none other than Lemarchand, the creator of the Lament Configuration.
The final reel explains the reason for the torture and murder of the group. The Host is actually Adam’s father. He blames the young people for the death of his son and is now exacting revenge in the most diabolical ways he can implement. Believing he has succeeded in his revenge, the Host flees the mansion and holes up in a hotel. There, he begins to look through Adam’s possessions, among them the Lament Configuration. The Host opens the box, whereupon two cenobites appear and tear him to pieces.
In the meantime, two of the young people, Jake (Christopher Jacot) and Chelsea (Katheryn Winnick) have managed to survive the ordeal at the mansion, having been rescued by police. As the two literally drive toward a sunrise, the Host makes one last appearance in an attempt to kill them. However, he fails and the movie ends.
Hellraiser: Hellworld has nothing to do with any of the events or mythology of the franchise. Indeed, much of the film is dedicated to either gently mocking or paying homage to the concepts, which are seen as little less that fodder for a video game. The movie’s structure is much like movies such as the Friday the Thirteenth franchise and even the Scream franchise, where a group of young people are systematically murdered by a mastermind killer. There are even some sexually charged sequences in the movie that ape this approach.
The acting is pretty good, and it’s always a joy to see Henriksen on the screen. However, the script and direction are uninspired. The most regrettable thing is the lack of any real horror throughout the movie, with Pinhead and the cenobites reduced to simple spooks better suited for a video game that a serious movie.
I cannot recommend Hellraiser: Hellworld, even to hardcore fans of the Hellraiser franchise. The only way I would purchase the film is as a multi-feature compilation of four Hellraiser sequels that is available for less than $8 (that’s how I saw the movie).