STUDIO: Dimension
MSRP: $29.99
RUNNING TIME: 95 Minutes
Making Of

The Pitch

"It’s the orgy scene of Eyes Wide Shut with Cenobites!"

The Humans

Lance Henriksen; Doug Bradley; Katheryn Winnick; Chrisotpher Jacot; many Romanians.

We’re half a decade past the ’90s but ironic horror lives on. After the death of their friend Adam, five twentysomething highschoolers drift apart. A few continue to play the online game Hellworld, which glamorizes the myth of a demonic puzzle box and it’s keepers the Cenobites. The promise of a rockin’ Hellworld party lures the five to a county house where they find host Lance Henricksen and a gruesome death. But Hellworld and the Cenobites aren’t real; they’re just the product of hallucinogens and the fantasies of horny kids. Or are they?

The Package

How do you sell a film that has no salable assets? Pinhead! Who’s the guy with the sad gleam in his eye? Pinhead! Who glares at viewers under an unrelated tagline? Pinhead!

That tagline — ‘Evil Goes Online’ — is actually an excellent way of lowering expectations. Reading it I expected nothing less than a rehash of Fear Dot Com. Instead, Hellworld is a film that’s tangentially related to the internet (at best) and manages to suck in good old fashioned ways.

If he cared, Clive Barker would weep.

Since this is Dimension, we find a middling presentation and something more than a trailer. Explaining away the shoddy script and ham sandwich direction is a commentary featuring Rick Bota (director), Joel Soisson (writer), Gary Tunnicliffe (effects) and Nick Phillips (exec, producer). A short ‘making of’ filled with EPK nonsense rounds out the disc.

The Lowdown

In a way, I’m glad that this series has given up any pretense of following Clive Barker’s original. His story, after all, relies on family dynamics more than demons and used a bunch of macabre imagery to propel it into horror’s canon. Sure, it’s fun, but there’s just not a whole lot to it. Thanks to their memorable appearance the Cenobites are icons, but what do they really represent? A good boogeyman (or gang thereof) has to have a reason for existence, especially when it’s a boogeyman that’s called up intentionally. The Cenobites don’t have it.

I wanna grow up to be a debaser.

So we’ve had a half-dozen shitty follow-ups like this one, where Pinhead is little more than a video game boss character. Instead of manipulating and punishing, he weilds a cleaver. How dull. The other two classic Cenobites — the Chatterer and Bound — show up as well, seemingly whenever a scene needs a bit of punctuation, but they don’t have any real purpose. All the movie’s menace is given to Lance Henriksen, who overacts like a drunk on his first weekend off the wagon. It’s almost wonderful.

Take away the vague ‘online’ aspects and you’ve got straight ’80s slasher stuff all the way. There are a few nods to J-horror as we’re made to wonder how much of the killing is ‘real’, but Hellworld doesn’t know how to manipulate reality any better than it can use Cenobites.

As always, the nuns sense the presence of the catholic paparazzi, snubbing their smokes at the last second.

To give the film credit, it does indulge in hitherto unexplored arenas of horror. Have you ever seen disco asthma terror before? I thought not. How about the pure, unrelenting apoplexy of looking with one eye through a paper towel tube? Never expected that. In addition to those groundbreaking elements viewers will be treated to decapitation, throat tearing, face spiking and lots of boobies. Hellworld might as well ship with the little opaque Cinemax logo already in the lower right corner.

I also appreciate the film’s look, which sets it slightly apart from average DTV fare. Most scenes have a sort of undead pallor and even the graininess of scenes shot outdoors at night manages to look intentional. Adding to the unintentional hilarity is a handful of scenes where the grain and pallor make Hellworld look like a Paxil commercial. Look, we’re smiling! We’re in the woods! That’s my blood!

4 out of 10

The Nutshell