Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)

Director: Rick Bota
Notable Cast: Dean Winters, William S. Taylor, Michael Rogers, Ashley Laurence, Rachel Hayward, Doug Bradley

"Welcome to the worst nightmare of all...reality."

The Hellraiser series has seem some serious highs and lows. Comparing where it started to the low it hit with three and four to the unseen backhand that was the redemption of Inferno, this franchise has seen it all. So if the fifth film worked so well (that film being Inferno for those new to the series) why the hell not try to make it work again? Well, for Hellseeker, it's a great idea that never got the execution quite down to work as well as the concept did for Inferno. It's still a successful and atmospheric film that works in building its version of hell, but it just lacks a bit connection.

Trevor is in a bad situation. He was just in a car wreck with his wife and although he thought he saw her drown, the police can't locate a body and he's being investigated. That's not even all. He is having headaches and he doesn't seem to know his own life as all of these different women seem to think that they have a sexual relationship with him. His best friend even seems to think that he killed his wife for her inheritance money that he's going to split with her. Now these people are dying around him and a mysterious figure and memories of a man with needles in his head seems to indicate there's more going on here than just bad headaches.

Despite its flaws, Hellseeker is still one of the better films in this franchise. Its story is rather smart, it has significant connections to the original film (the lead character's wife happens to be Kirsty Cotton from the first two films), and it hardly feels like the straight to DVD movie that it should feel like. It follows its predecessors steps in these ways giving us another tale of a person's descent into hell thanks to the puzzle box and with some very smart plot moments (the sexual chair encounter with his boss and the video camera nightmare moment come to mind for that) and some solid acting, Hellseeker carries its weight for the most part. The narrative flow can be a bit choppy at times, but the intent on crafting another "mystery" for the audience to solve as its protagonist slowly descends into hell makes for a horrific ride worthy of carrying the Hellraiser title.

Unfortunately, I believe that this sixth entry doesn't go near far enough for what it could have. Our lead character Trevor seems rather distant throughout the entire movie despite his predicament and we lose touch with him by about half way through because of his disconnect that's needed to build the mystery. Also, as the film slowly winds down into pure insanity towards the end it doesn't seem to really give us the pure hell that the film should descend into that's now expected from a Hellraiser film. This one, outside of a few gore moments, is more about creating a sense of paranoia and dread instead of the energetic madness and layering that Inferno utilized. It gives the film a unique flavor, but not one that makes that pure connection needed to sell it's loftier concepts.

Although the Hellraiser series has seen better, it definitely has seen worse than Hellseeker. It has a pretty solid story that gets to the heart of what makes these films good, but some lackluster character arcs and a rather straightforward directing job this film needs a lot of work still. When Pinhead says in the film, "All problems solved? Not so simple, I'm afraid.", who knew how right he was. Still, this entry is easily one of the better ones for the franchise so don't write it off simply because it's the sixth one.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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