‘Evil goes online’
Hellraiser: Hellworld is a 2005 American horror feature film directed by Rick Bota (Hellraiser: Hellseaker; Hellraiser: Deader) for Dimension Pictures. It is the eighth instalment in the series.
The Hellworld script is based on a short story called “Dark Can’t Breathe” by Joel Soisson. It was released straight to DVD in the US on September 6, 2005, after a few film festival screenings.
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 favour of a starring role in the vampire thriller Near Dark (1987). Other leads: Doug Bradley, Katheryn Winnick, Christopher Jacot, Khary Payton, Henry Cavill (Blood Creek) and Désirée Malonga.
A circle of youths are addicted to playing Hellworld, an online computer game based on the Hellraiser series. At the funeral of Adam, one of the friends who was obsessed with the game and ultimately committed suicide after becoming too immersed in the game, the remaining five friends blame themselves for not having his death.
Two years later, they nonetheless attend a private Hellworld Party at an old mansion after receiving invites through the game. 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 offers them drinks, shows them around the mansion (allegedly a former convent and asylum also built by Lemarchand), and provides them with cell phones to communicate with other guests.
As the party progresses, Allison, Derrick and Mike find themselves trapped in separate parts of the house, and are gruesomely killed by the Host, Pinhead, or Cenobite minions Chatterer III and Bound. Meanwhile, Jake and Chelsea become mysteriously invisible to other party guests, and are stalked by the Host and the Cenobites…
“There’s a lot less story to Hellworld, although it does deliver in the sordid elements you’d want from a horror film – sex, violence and nudity. It deteriorates into teenage slasher movie at one point, but having Lance Henriksen and Doug Bradley in the cast makes things work a little better than most slasher films.” 7(M) Pictures
” … the film has nothing to do with the basic concepts behind the original stories, and worse, it’s simply not that good of a movie period. The kids are the usual generic and largely unlikable lot, the scenario makes almost zero sense, and the villain isn’t threatening. If this was just some random movie called Hellworld, with the Cenobites replaced by anonymous demon types, it would still be a lousy movie – having it be part of a franchise just makes it worse.” Horror Movie a Day
“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.” Examiner.com
” … sequence after sequence of the various characters wandering the preposterously large mansion while muttering so-called “clever” comments to themselves (it doesn’t help that each character seems to have emerged directly from the horror-cliche rulebook, including the sassy, doomed black guy). The gore, presumably the one bright spot to a film like this, is sparse and unimaginative; Pinhead lops a guy’s head off with a butcher knife, if that tells you anything.” Reel Film Reviews
“Where it crosses the line is in trying to marry this franchise with a target audience formula, namely “slasher teen”. You get the consummate Hellraiser fans who really want a return to the lineage. A return meaning, more back story, more disclosure of the cenobites and more interaction with a visual Hell. HellWorld pokes fun at that idea with its modern interpretation that stems away from what the fans seek. It changes the rules around, ignores its heritage and insults the central idea of Pinhead and his world of suffering.” Horror News
Cast and characters:
- Doug Bradley as Pinhead
- Lance Henriksen as The Host
- Katheryn Winnick as Chelsea
- Christopher Jacot as Jake
- Khary Payton as Derrick
- Henry Cavill as Mike
- Désirée Malonga as Désirée Malonga
- Glenn Tyson as Anaconda
- Anna Tolputt as Allison
- Stelian Urian as Adam
- Adam Wallace as Tree