Hellraiser: Deader (2005)
Release Date: June 7th, 2005 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Rick Bota Actors: Kari Wuhrer, Paul Rhys, Simon Kunz, Georgina Rylance, Marc Warren, Doug Bradley, Linda Marlowe, Madalina Constantin, Iona Abur
ormerly a writer for the New York Post but now employed by the London Underground newspaper, Amy Klein (Kari Wuhrer) finds success writing edgy articles like “How to Be a Crack Whore.” In between researching a follow-up exposé – by indulging in drugs and residing in a rundown establishment full of addicts – Amy returns to the offices to see her boss Charles (Simon Kunz), who shows her a snuff-like video involving cultists called “deaders.” “Tell me this is some kind of special effect!” she gasps, as a young woman shoots herself in the head and is then brought back to life through some satanic ritual.
With nothing but a return address for the video, Amy is assigned to track down the makers and find out if a worthwhile story is at the heart of the deader society. Journeying to Bucharest, Romania, she bribes a landlord to enter the apartment where the footage was shot. She discovers the corpse of a woman named Marla (Georgina Rylance), who apparently strangled herself; another video that leads her to Eurotrash subway partier Joey (Marc Warren); and a strangely ornamented cube that causes a momentary vision of large metal chains thrusting from the device and a horrific demon with a face full of nails (Doug Bradley as “Pinhead”). Instead of becoming frightened (like a normal person), Amy is inspired to pursue a woman called Katia (Ioana Abur) and deader ringleader Winter (Paul Rhys), who needs her help to command an army of Cenobite minions from hell.
This seventh installment in the “Hellraiser” franchise is now a Stan Winston production, though it’s once again directed by Rick Bota and based on a script that wasn’t originally intended to be a “Hellraiser” picture. It’s also a straight-to-video venture, though the budget appears decent enough to have been theatrical – if not for the strangeness of the story and the borderline un-marketability of yet another random plot infused with cenobite hellions, which make sorting out the relationships between characters rather hard to follow. Even the acting is adequate. Unfortunately, unlike Jason and Freddy slashers, Pinhead continues to be relegated to a small, barely supporting role (almost like a wise old sage giving helpful advice), instead of allowing him to wreak havoc at the forefront. Correspondingly, the boxy gateway to hell is an afterthought instead of the primary avenue of thrills. Pinhead’s foot soldiers also receive diminished screentime and appear in smaller numbers. More often than not, the human villains are the ones to cause the most destruction.
Nevertheless, the film is sharper, scarier, gorier, and certainly more serious than the last few entries in the series. Manipulative jump scares are prevalent, along with repetitive close-ups of a dead woman’s swollen, pasty, white-eyed face (the makeup effects were applied, so why not get the most from it?), while locations are claustrophobic, humid, and covered in sludge. There’s also some exploitive nudity just because several actors and actresses weren’t opposed to the idea. The rock music isn’t particularly fitting, though the orchestral segues have a greater resonance than what is typical for these kinds of B-movies, and the editing, utilizing quick zooms, flashbacks, and slow-motion, is particularly annoying. But intent on blurring reality and fantasy (or waking nightmare and sleeping nightmare), in line with the gimmick from the previous two episodes (as a result of twisting unrelated plots into Pinhead yarns), “Hellraiser: Deader” creates an amusingly fiendish atmosphere. Too bad Pinhead has to explain everything during the climax – and still can’t make things clear for the audience.
– Mike Massie