Search This Blog

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 355: Event Horizon

Event Horizon
Infinite terror comes with your choice of toppings

Space: The Final Frontier. It's cliché, I know, but when it comes to horror, it's true. Despite us knowing more about space than the ocean, the audience has a general idea of what something from the sea will look like. When it comes to outer space, anything and everything is possible. There are no rules which frees up writers and directors to create the movie they want to make. Sometimes it leads to great results like Alien and sometimes it leads to brain-crushing stupidity like Jason X. Either way, you never know what to expect.

Event Horizon is a 1997 science fiction horror movie starring Lawrence Fishburne (The Matrix, Mission Impossible III) as Captain Miller and Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, In The Mouth Of Madness) as Dr. William Weir. In the year 2040, the spaceship Event Horizon disappeared on it's maiden voyage to another star system. Seven years later, a distress signal is received from the Event Horizon. The rescue vessel Lewis and Clark is sent to the rescue the ship which is floating near Neptune. The ship is captained by Miller whose crew includes Lt. Starck (Joely Richardson, The Tudors, Nip/Tuck), pilot Smith (Sean Pertwee, Dog Soldiers, Soldier), engineer Justin (Jack Noseworthy, There's Something About Mary, The Fifth Element), doctor D.J. (Jason Isaacs, The Patriot, Armageddon), medical technician Peters (Kathleen Quinlan, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, Apollo 13), and rescue technician Cooper (Richard T. Jones, Kiss The Girls, The Wood). The ship's creator, Dr. Weir, joins the mission, revealing that the ship was built to test an experimental form of space travel that generates an artificial black hole. When they enter the ship, they see the remnants of a bloody massacre. As they search for clues as to what happened, the ship's gravity drive starts on it's own, dragging Justin into a portal. When he is released, he is left in a catatonic state. The gravity drive damages the Lewis And Clark, forcing the entire crew onto the Event Horizon. They begin to experience terrifying hallucinations, all surrounding fears and regrets, especially towards lost love ones. Justin wakes from his catatonic state and tries to kill himself, saying that he has seen horrible things inside the portal. Dr. Weir begins to see visions of his wife, who committed suicide, urging him to “join” her. The crew is able to decipher the ship's log, revealing that the crew went insane and horrifically mutilated each other. Miller and DJ believe that the ship's original portal jump led them to another dimension, one of complete chaos and evil. In fact, they believe that the ship has in fact been to Hell. Now, that evil lives on the ship and has taken over Dr. Weir. Weir begins to sadistically murder the crew members while the ship itself causes more hallucinations. Will Miller be able to stop Weir and get back home before it's too late?

And will he join the Ghostbusters?

Writer Philip Eisner (The Mutant Chronicles, Firestarter 2) originally pitched Event Horizon as “The Shining in space” with no actual story planned. Well that may sound like a funny thing to do, Alien was pitched as “Jaws in space” so it's not without merit. It's a pretty apt description of how Event Horizon is laid out, both in story and action. Initially, the audience has an inkling that something bad might happen, but the true horror slowly unfolds, enveloping the characters as well as the audience. The ship has an evil presence, much like the Overlook Hotel in The Shining, coupled with the mental breakdown of one of the main characters. Event Horizon uses the same combination of isolation, depression, and despair to twist characters as well as test the audience. All that being said, Event Horizon isn't on the same level as The Shining. This movie focuses much more on physical action and violence rather than the psychological horror of The Shining. Full of explosions and fight scenes, this movie is made more to frighten you up front rather than terrify within. The hallucinations may make you jump, but they're not on the same level as say, an elevator full of blood rushing towards you. Speaking of blood and gore, this movie has a lot of it. More than lots of slashers, actually. Test audiences and the studio found the original cut to be too gory and scenes were cut, which is a shame. The movie does have religious imagery, like a window shaped like a cross, but it's not overly religious like an exorcism movie would be.

Another major difference is the quality of story. Event Horizon uses an interesting idea and a creative setting to get started, but when it comes down to details and specifics, the movie tends to gloss over them in an effort to get to more visually exciting scenes. It's never entirely clear if the ship actually went to Hell or just a scary dimension. How did the ship create hallucinations? Was the ship alive or did everyone just go nuts? Why are people smoking inside a spaceship? The movie is entertaining enough where you can mostly overlook plot holes, though they may stick with you when the movie is over. The cast is really strong in this movie with everyone playing their part very well. Sam Neill is really good as a villain and should play one more often. Two funny things I noticed while watching the movie. At the beginning, they say that the first colony on the moon started in 2015. Looks like that's not happening. I always get a kick out of things like this in movies that predict something in the not too distant future and get it wrong. I love Escape From New York, but always laugh when they say the year is 1997. Just pick something like 100 years in the future so if you get it wrong, no one will really care by then. The second thing was the crew communicating with each other using what looks like iPads. I think someone should sue Apple for that. Director Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat) captures both the violence and fear well enough to please action fans and horror fans equally. 

You got a little something, never mind

Event Horizon is an enjoyable science fiction horror movie with a decent amount of scares and some interesting ideas. It's easy to see how the story parallels The Shining, always a good movie to emulate. There is a true sense of isolation and claustrophobia throughout the movie that makes the audience feel what the characters are experiencing. The movie has a lot of blood and gore which may make some people squeamish. The movie uses a large amount of special effects, some good and some clearly from the 1990's. Direct Paul W.S. Anderson does a solid job and the cast manages to make the movie, which could have been silly in the wrong hands, believable and entertaining. There are some issues with the plot as details tend to be rushed or completely ignored, but there's enough going on to keep you entertained. While it didn't do well when it was first released, Event Horizon has gained a cult status among horror and sci-fi fans. It's fun, scary, and different. A winning combination.



  1. I re-watched this a few weeks ago and couldn't believe I had forgotten just how good this film actually is!

  2. Definitely an underrated horror & sci-fi film.