… Hellraiser VI: the comment on good and evil.
Hellraiser VI brings back the character of Kirstie, the heroine of the first two films. In the first film, she has no idea, of course, what opening the puzzle box will do; she convinces Pinhead and the other Cenobites to take instead the man who opened the box on purpose. In the second film, her connection to the box is to help save innocent people from her evil stepmother, but she is confronted once more by Pinhead, who believes her repeated experiences with the box indicate her true feelings – that deep down she wants to explore Hell and all the “sights” he offers to show her. She is hard pressed to escape him and return to her safe, relatively pain-free world.
In the sixth installment, however, we see a Kirstie we didn’t expect. When her husband brings the box home with him – curious about what secrets it contains – she is justifiably frightened and angry. She knows what secrets it holds; she’s seen the Hell that lies beyond it, and what the people trapped there are subjected to. She has had trouble with her husband already – lying, infidelity – but she has no wish to lose her soul to his selfish stupidity. So, when Pinhead again confronts her about this third “coincidence”, she once more offers the man who opened the box on purpose – her husband.
She goes a bit further, though. She offers the souls of five others – her husband and the people in whose company he became dishonest and unfaithful to her.
Well, of course, so few people want to go to Hell; it makes perfect sense that she would implicate the truly guilty party – even if it is her husband – to avoid going to Hell. But to offer, as though they were hers to give, the souls of others – others who had done nothing to her personally but become part of her husband’s double life – is quite another matter. Especially when, in the second film, she had actually defeated Pinhead, why decide now that the only option is to sacrifice five people for her own safety?
From the beginning of the film series, Kirstie is presented as the “good guy”, the one who faces the Cenobites’ evil and defeats it with her good spirit. But the sixth film suggests that fear and desperation lead us to make choices we would otherwise not have made – choices at odds with what we have said was “good”. It suggests that “good” and “evil” are so defined more by relative comparison and a habit of thinking than by actual evaluation. But is it suggesting that “when you look into the abyss, it looks back into you”? I’m not so sure.
It seems more to me that Pinhead was right all along – that Kirstie and the box seem to find each other with surprising regularity. She may be right too, though – she may not be seeking it out, desiring secretly to be tormented in Pinhead’s Hell. It may be, instead, that the box sees something dark in her – that the box is looking for her, rather than the other way around, and that, rather than being Pinhead’s willing victim, she is in fact someone who could give him a bit of competition.
What sort of person do you think Kirstie really is? – and how much of her is inside each of us?