I think “Hellraiser 6: Hellseeker” might have been a better movie had I not seen the previous sequel, but I doubt it. The fact is, “Hellseeker” is a duplicate of “Inferno”, employing the same Head Trip scenario that made the previous installment such a drastic departure from the rest of the franchise. But alas, having seen “Inferno” there was absolutely nothing exciting, thrilling, or even interesting about “Hellseeker”. This reaction, mind you, despite the return of Ashley Laurence, reprising her role as Kirsty, the “Hellraiser” version of Heather from “A Nightmare on Elm Street”.
Dean Winters, sporting an odd scar below his mouth that makes his face look like it’s locked in an eternal smirk, stars as Trevor, a sleazy businessman who, as the movie progresses, gets more and more sleazy. Also, Trevor is trying to regain his memory, having lost it a while back. (The movie’s timeline chronology is a bit hazy, but I guess that’s the point). You see, Trevor is married to Kirsty (Ashley Laurence), but she’s gone missing after a car accident, and Trevor is left with selective amnesia. Now suspected by the police of killing his wife, Trevor spends his days and nights trying to remember what happened to Kirsty, as strange things start happening — and people start acting strangely — around him. What the hell is going on?
Of course, having seen “Inferno”, there’s not a lot of mystery to what the hell is going on with Trevor’s life. And as the screenplay and director Rick Bota starts to increase the level of strange occurrences, I’m afraid subtlety goes out the window in favor of slick cinematography. And that is really the only thing about “Hellseeker” that is worthwhile. It’s a great looking movie, and director Rick Bota, in his feature film debut, shows that he’s got the right talent for this kind of work. Bota’s obvious talents with the camera may also explain why he was given the director’s chair for parts 7 and 8 as well — subtitled “Deader” and “Hellworld”, respectively.
Unfortunately the return of Ashley Laurence is a big waste, proving once again that writers with no respect for a franchise’s history shouldn’t be allowed to write its sequels. Laurence’s Kirsty isn’t in the movie for more than 10 minutes and the vast majority of that is in flashbacks. To add further insult to fans foaming at the mouth for the lovely Ms. Laurence’s much-anticipated return, most of her flashback scenes are re-occurring flashbacks!
The film’s ending is also disappointing. As a cursory fan of the franchise, I was not especially perturbed by the motivations behind the Kirsty character. The movie’s big “surprise” is sure to be controversial because it contradicts a lot of the established character traits of the Kirsty character. This is a woman who has literally gone to hell and back, and knows exactly what the Cenobites are capable off. Needless to say, the character does the one thing she would never do again. And all for what? Let’s just say, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” takes a whole new meaning. “What is ‘contrived’, Alex?”
Devoted “Hellraiser” fans might find even more things to get upset about with “Hellseeker”. Even as a not-so dedicated fan I thought the installment was a big waste of time and had very little reason to exist. Doug Bradley returns as chief Cenobite Pinhead, but like Kirsty, he mind as well not have come back at all; the screentime he’s afforded is criminally limited. Dean Winters, our hero, fills up exactly every single frame of the movie. And yes, the guy really does look like he’s smirking throughout.
It remains to be seen if I’ll bother with Bota’s next two “Hellraiser” sequels. I suppose I’ll have to take a look at the logline for those movies first, just to make sure they’re not more of the same.
Still, it goes without saying that the “Hellraiser” franchise has really gone to hell in a hand basket. (Oh boy, I’m so clever.)
Rick Bota (director) / Carl V. Dupr’, Timothy F. Day (screenplay)
CAST: Dean Winters …. Trevor
Ashley Laurence …. Kirsty
Doug Bradley …. Pinhead
Rachel Hayward …. Allison
Sarah-Jane Redmond …. Gwen