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Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker(2002)
Kirsty Cotton returns to fight Pinhead in the sixth film in the Hellraiser series.
For more about Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker and the Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker Blu-ray release, see Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 20, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Ashley Laurence, Doug Bradley, Dean Winters
Director: Rick Bota
» See full cast & crew
Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker Blu-ray Review
Bland movie, bland video, bland audio, no extras.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 20, 2012
Personally, I prefer pain.
There's something to be said for tenacity, but there's also a point where a whole lot of something just becomes too much of nothing, when wasted effort for naught just becomes overkill. This holds true in cinema, and within the Horror genre in particular. The original Hellraiser dazzled Horror aficionados with its wonderful combination of chilling Noir and grisly Horror. Even the sequel carried over many of the same qualities. Yet here is the sixth film in the series, Hellraiser: Hellseeker, a completely derivative picture released straight to home video and made on a rather low budget with a flimsy script leading the way. To the picture's credit, it casts a capable actor in the lead role, retains fan favorite Doug Bradley in the role of Pinhead, and sees the return Kirsty Cotton (Ashley Laurence), heroine of the first film and playing a large yet largely unseen role. Unfortunately, those pluses don't outweigh the minuses. Hellseeker is competent on a base level and fans will enjoy a few grotesque visuals, but in total the movie serves no real purpose other than to extend a series that's worn down its welcome.
Trevor Gooden (Dean Winters, the guy who plays in all of those Allstate commercials) has recently lost his wife Kristy (Laurence) in a tragic car accident. They're making up and making out when the vehicle plummets into a body of water, leaving her trapped and him freed. He awakens in a hospital, appears in a hellish alternate reality, and awakens in the hospital again. Yet he's doing remarkably well, all things considered. He's quickly back at work, but he continues to see things, strange things, and experience odd sensations, all the while finding himself under investigation for his role in his wife's death. As he efforts to rebuild his life, he finds himself seduced by several women and slowly introduced to a reality -- which includes the devilish Pinhead (Bradley) -- unlike anything he could have ever imagined.
Returning a long-running Horror franchise to its roots worked well for 1998's Halloween: H20, that film boasting Scream Queen and Halloween star Jamie Lee Curtis again in the lead role, revitalizing a franchise that seemed to be going through the motions rather than getting to the core of the original story with its numerous sequels. The gamble paid off; the movie's quite good, aided by strong supporting performances and a rather engaging story and script. Hellraiser: Hellseeker efforts to pull off the same feat by bringing back Kirsty Cotton, but unlike H20, Hellseeker stumbles its way towards gross mediocrity. The character is underutilized, the script is awkward, the photography is dull, and the performances largely uninspired. There's some merit to the story and a pretty good flow and structure to it, but the film never capitalizes, haphazardly rather than smoothly moving through it, constructing a narrative that gets bogged down in visual oddity and structural confusion to the point that it's not always clear when, where, and why things are happening. Worse, Kristy's underutilized despite being central to the story. Her presence makes sense in the end, but fans might be disappointed with her part in it, both in terms of time on-screen and role in the shaping of the plot.
The story deals more in aspects of the Paranormal Thriller with touches of the police procedural more so than straight Horror. While Hellseeker offers some gruesome elements scattered throughout the movie, gore aficionados will tire of the picture's avoidance of the juicy stuff in favor of its clunky story. Indeed, the picture plays as a series of hallucinations and realities, with the notable trait that it's sometimes unclear which is which, or if both are one or the other. The movie works better in hindsight with the outcome revealed than through its duration with the outcome in question; the ending ties it up nicely, but the journey is far too unsettled for the reward earned at the end. In essence, the movie is one big puzzle, with pieces shifting, perspectives changing, and outcomes unclear. The Thriller elements fit in with the series' typical modus operandi, but the inability to tie in more gruesome, malicious, macabre underpinnings is to the film's detriment. The acting is nothing special; Dean Winters is capable of carrying a movie of more dramatic and thematic complexity than this. However, the performance reflects an actor going through the motions, likely thanks to a middling script that never really challenges him to do anything but show up to the set on time.
Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker Blu-ray, Video Quality
Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker's Blu-ray transfer isn't hellish, but neither is it Heavenly. This is, generally, a flat, dim, uninspired picture that benefits from the boosted resolution of Blu-ray but otherwise fares little better than a DVD. Details never impress. The image offers basic clarity and stability, but fine detail is lacking across the board. A lack of sharpness renders backgrounds a bit fuzzy, while faces, clothes, and other up-close visuals rarely enjoy more than simple, no-frills texturing. Colors are flat, and transitions along darker edges, such as shadowy faces, is poor. Light grain is evident in places, while other spots appear a bit smoothed over. This is an uneven transfer that does nothing remotely well but nothing egregiously poor, either. For a few dollars, though, it's unrealistic to expect more.
Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker fails to ignite sound systems, serving up a paltry, sonically uninteresting DTS-HD MA 2.0 lossless soundtrack. This is a direct to video picture, so low production values are a given, and a mediocre soundtrack is almost expected. There's an evident lifelessness to the track; it's one of little effort beyond delivering the basics. It lacks energy and sounds stale. Music plays routinely but efficiently across the front. Clarity is acceptable, no more and no less. A middling low end sensation sneaks out to play a few times but adds little heft or value to the track. There is fair spacing to reverberating voices, and general dialogue plays with suitable clarity. Basic sound effects, like squeaky brakes on a bus, are fine but unassuming and hardly lifelike. The track get the job done -- the spoken word is clear, and no effect or musical note sounds truly muddled -- but this is a low effort, low yield presentation.
Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Echo Bridge's Blu-ray release of Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker contains no supplements.
Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker is a rather unimaginative Horror picture, exactly the kind of thing one would expect of the sixth installment of a franchise on the DTV path. It efforts to return the series to its roots with the return of Actress Ashley Laurence, but her appearance is limited despite her character playing central to the plot. The other players -- including Winters and Bradley -- sleepwalk through their parts. Bradley appears on the screen less frequently than Laurence, leaving the movie in Winters' capable hands but also in a script that's confused and direction that's scattered. This is a serviceable time waster, but only diehard franchise fans really need apply. Echo Bridge's Blu-ray release doesn't impress. It features mediocre video and audio and no extras. Skip it.
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