EVENT HORIZONParamount Pictures
1997
R

“Hell is only a word. The reality is much, much worse.”

After mysteriously disappearing on it’s maiden voyage, the experimental government ship Event Horizon reappeared in Neptune’s orbit after seven years of being MIA. After a rescue and salvage crew boards the ship, they find that the entire crew have vanished mysteriously, leaving only rather disturbing video logs of their first official venture into wormhole travel. The main component to this technology is a gyroscopic doodad that can generate a self-contained black hole, an “event horizon”, if you will, that, in theory, opens up a wormhole through the fabric of space and time, thus making exploration into the far reaches of outer space a possibility. Which, of course, brings up the question: What the hell happened after it entered the wormhole the first time? Where’s the crew? And more importantly, did it reach the other side of space, or did it somehow open up a gateway to a different, much more sinister dimension entirely? Like, say…I don’t know…HELL?!? Big scientific questions aside, the ship’s acting kinda funny. And the rescue team is acting a bit wonky as well, now that I notice it…

About a couple of years ago, I was watching this sci-fi gothic horror flick with a friend of mine, and the hardcore / punk 13-year-old brother of said friend. Once the scene that featured the above quote played, the younger brother proclaimed, rather loudly and obnoxiously, “Hey! These guys just ripped off Zao!” Followed closely by, “Ow! Ow! My head! Watch it!” I wish I could take the honor for that one…

Anyhoo, to be completely honest with everyone, when I first watched Event Horizon (it was right after my sister’s wedding, as a matter of fact, in August of ’98…wasn’t a big fan of dancing and mingling with family), I didn’t like it that much. After repeated viewings over the years, however, I began to appreciate it more and more, and now the movie sits as one of my cult faves.

Going in, the astute horror fiend will notice that Event Horizon borrows freely elements and ideas from genre movies past: Alien, The Shining and Hellraiser immediately come to mind. While the film’s basic ingredients are far from original, and the characters are fairly standard (you got the macho guys, the upstanding lady, and the scientist who eventually turns evil), the film manages to mix ’em all together into one sordid and tasty amalgam. Let me explain a bit…

First off, the biggest star of this movie is definitely the set design. I remember reading an interview with director Paul Anderson where he mentioned designing the interior of the ship based on European gothic cathedrals, and he came through with the effect. The ship itself is dark and spooky, with almond-shaped hallways and the tunnel laden with metal teeth. The CGI effects worked pretty well most of the time, adding to the otherworldly feel. The actors do a good job with the material given, bringing something solid to their respective parts. There are genuine spookiness and suspenseful tension in this movie that, even after repeated viewings, still disturb me (that airlock scene…brrrrrrr….). Nicely done.

I think the biggest qualm that a lot of people may have had with this movie, is the fact that nothing is entirely explained- what was going on with the ship, what happened to the original crew, where’d they go on the maiden voyage, etc. Actually, this lack of explanation is the thing I enjoy most about Event Horizon. Really, it’s like a good Lovecraft tale- where the horror is never really explained, or even seen at times. It works the same here. I think the film is made all that much more darker and scarier when it forces the audience to imagine for themselves what’s going on. I mean, really, if they tried to show and explain exactly what happened when the ship went through the wormhole, it would have come off as crap. Anyone who’s watched The Black Hole (one of the rare instances where I demand the remake of a movie) and have scratched their heads over the ending know what I’m talking about…

About the only qualm I have with Event Horizon is that, it seems to have fallen victim to tinkering in the edit room by the studios. It feels like certain scenes are missing, and there used to be more to the film than just the 90-some minutes. Apparently so, as Paul Anderson was talking three years ago about working on a “special edition” release, where he’ll reinsert deleted scenes back into the film instead of having them as extras. Apparently the film originally ran a little over two hours. Whatever, I’ll gladly sit through a two-hour version, if it means getting more to the story. Maybe it’s already come out, and I’ve been too lazy to scope out that possibility…either way, I urge you to at least give this movie a look see. It’s a solid, engrossing sci-fi gothic horror that can disturb you and make you think…

Advertisements