Hellraiser: Hellseeker (2002)
Directed by Rick Bota
If you are looking for a sequel to Hellraiser and you want a psychological thriller with a sleazy protagonist, skip Inferno and go straight to Hellseeker. This, the sixth film of the series, is by far the best of the Hellraiser movies that was released directly to home video. It is also the first of three in the franchise directed by Rick Bota. Most importantly, Hellseeker reunites Pinhead and Kirsty Cotton for the final time.
Unlike Joseph Thorne from the previous film, Trevor (the main character in Hellseeker) is not a scumbag detective… he’s just a scumbag. Like Thorne, Trevor also cheats on his wife numerous times. The difference is that Trevor’s wife is Kirsty, the particularly-unfortunate protagonist from Hellraiser and Hellbound who has a history of dealing with Pinhead and the Cenobites.
Trevor spends most of the film piecing together clues to determine what is real and what is fantasy, but is ultimately unable to avoid a meeting with Pinhead. There really are way too many similarities between the fifth and sixth movies. Both scripts were originally written as non-Hellraiser films, but were rewritten to fit into the franchise. I just don’t understand why Dimension chose to make both of them, considering just how similar the stories are.
The return of Ashley Laurence as Kirsty is a big part of what makes Hellseeker work. We get to see her face-to-face with Pinhead once again, and the story ends with more closure for the character than we got from Hellbound and a short appearance in Hell on Earth. For me, Hellraiser, Hellbound, Hell on Earth, Bloodline, and Hellseeker are the essential films of the franchise. Four of those five feature Kirsty.
A horror franchise only needs its iconic villain to keep coming back, but the eventual return of the original final girl can be just as important. Dream Warriors and New Nightmare are two of the best sequels to A Nightmare on Elm Street, and both feature Heather Langenkamp as Nancy Thompson. The return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in Halloween H20 revitalized a series that had gotten stale. Kirsty Cotton’s return did not impress critics or revitalize the still-floundering Hellraiser franchise, but it deserves much more credit than it gets.