"We know he's immortal...but this is getting ridiculous already."
Itís not easy being a fan of cinematic horror these days; as soon as a criminally cool flick like "Hellraiser" is unleashed, the non-stop parade of sequels is always just over the horizon. Each new chapter brings new hope and a (rapidly dwindling) sense of fanboy good will. Each time hopes are dashed.The perfect example here (though there are seemingly dozens) comes courtesy of the Hellraiser series. The original is a sinfully goopy and dizzyingly grim modern horror fable. Part 2 is not all that hot but at least it tries to remain true to its predecessor. Part 3? Watchable enough for fans of the series, though thatís not saying all that much. Parts 4, 5 and 6... Direct-to-video, which generally means ďit sucksĒ.
Iíve seen my share of DTV movies that are fine pieces of entertainment. Theyíre rare and none of them come emblazoned with the word "Hellraiser" on the cover. To try and encapsulate the later entries would be a pointless exercise, as the films have no connective tissue and each one is as dreary and plodding as they are massive teases. (Weíre now at Part 6 in this series and Iím still astonished at how rarely Pinhead and his minions actually SHOW UP in these movies!)
Though a marked improvement over its two immediate forefathers, Hellseeker suffers from the same maladies as the cheapies that came before: muddled storytelling, turgid pacing, unconvincing acting performances, and an overall sense of filmmakers simply not trying all that hard. The plot once again deals with the devilish puzzle box known as the Lament Configuration and all the evil nastiness that it houses.
Chock full of flashbacks and meandering dream sequences, the actual plot is hidden beneath a system of hoary old gimmicks Ė not the least of which is a finale culled directly from cult-fave Jacobís Ladder. ("Did my wife die in that horrible car wreck, the one that also gave me (wait for it) AMNESIA? Yes... she IS dead. Whoops itís a dream. Or maybe itís a flashback of an earlier dream." Damn, these lazy screenwriting chestnuts can pile up, canít they?)
One of the "selling points" here is the presence of Ashley Laurence, an actress making her first appearance in the series since way back in Part 2. Unfortunately, Laurence A) isnít in the film very much, and B) isnít a very good actor. Nice to see the galís earning a paycheck again but her presence here is hardly notable beyond a cursory mention.
About 65 minutes into the film, Pinhead shows up. Now, I realize that a horror movie should often be more than just popular villains doing bloody things, but surely the loyal gorehounds deserve a little more payoff than THIS! Calling this a Pinhead flick is like calling The Muppet Movie a Steve Martin vehicle. The end credits of Hellseeker have more screen-time than does poor Pinhead.
So on this seemingly endless series lurches and with each passing sequel the original film seems both farther away and also more of a classic. One canít blame a canny studio for churning out sequel after sequel (they make money, people) but maybe for Part 7 (already in production and headed to your DVD player later this year) we could get a little more horror and a little less lazy plagiarism.Iím not holding my breath.