Event Horizon (1997)
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Written by: Philip Eisner
Starring: Jack Noseworthy, Jason Isaacs, Joely Richardson, Kathleen Quinlan, Laurence Fishburne, Richard T. Jones, Sam Neill, Sean Pertwee
There was all this talk about a new sci-fi horror that was apparently the scariest space film since Alien, and one of the most terrifying horrors ever! The Exorcist in space! Reviews had talked about this new horror that pretty much scares you half to death right from the beginning and doesn’t let up for a second. A masterpiece in modern horror. All this talk had go me over excited about Event Horizon; it had a great cast, including Sam Neill who was already at the top of my list after In the Mouth of Madness just a few years earlier. I was so excited, to the point i thought i could only be let down by it, to be this hungry to see a film, you just know it won’t live up to expectations.
Thankfully, Event Horizon surpassed my expectations, in a big big way! Sitting down to watch this chilling film for the first time, it starts and there is this crazy, over the top music and some wonderful, dark and chilling visuals of space and what look like supernova’s, in fact, it kind of looked like early Doctor Who, but with a terrifying edge. The opening credits had set the tone for an almighty scare fest, a gothic space horror not seen since, well, Alien. As I’ve said before, sci-fi horror is a superb genre, and there just is not enough of it. Since Event Horizon, all we’ve really had is the brilliant Sunshine and Pandorum. There are always plenty of straight to dvd sci-fi horrors but they are generally crap. When will directors really get with it and give us some more!
So, within less than five minutes of the film, we have been scared half to death by Sam Neill simply having a shave, and by the introduction of his dead wife. It would seem, we are not in familiar territory here, this film aint gonna have a slow build up, it’s gonna pound are poor little heads from the start. We meet the crew, as does Sam Neill’s Dr Weir. Laurance Fishbourne is splendid as Captain Miller, a strong character who does things by the book and doesn’t take shit from anyone, he commands respect and he dam well gets it. His XO is the beautiful Joely Richardson, the comedy of Cooper’s rescue technician, and Peters’ medical expert. We also have “Baby Bear”, a young lad who is curious, and doesn’t seem to have the experience of the rest. Sean Pertwee’s Smithy is a great character, the driver of their ship; he has a great British way about him and doesn’t take any crap either. Then we have D.J, a wonderful Jason Isaacs, who when asked what he does, he simply says “trauma” Weir, we soon find out, built the Event Horizon, and it a classic scene, he explains to the crew of the Louis and Clark exactly why they’ve been taken off leave. The ship he built, the Event Horizon disappeared seven years ago and the papers made up stories about it exploding. It didn’t. The rescue team are here, in the orbit of Neptune, to salvage the ship. Weirs speech about what they believe went wrong, and how the ship works is classic, the kind of scene you only really get in sci-fi films. They talk about things that make no sense, but you go along with it and hang on every word, its interesting to listen to and you want to find out more.
Oh, and we do find out more! Eventually, we find the ship, almost crashing into it. Amongst the electrical storms and mist around Neptune, this hulking ship is floating, looking creepy as hell. Director Paul Anderson’s effects are superb, it all looks astonishing, quite brilliant, not a thing has been missed yet, and it’s all coming together perfectly. Anderson has done a superb job in building up the tension, drawing you in and dazzling you with his views of space. On board the Event Horizon there is no atmosphere, everything is floating, and we even see floating coolant. When this came out, these floating objects, especially the coolant, were one of the big talking points, it had never been done this well before. Inside the ship itself looks like a horror film, its design is truly incredible; it just looks awesome, but also very unsettling. To get to the ships “heart” where it keeps the magnetic mechanism to create a black hole, you have to go through what looks like a meat grinder, and the room that holds the “gravity drive” is truly the stuff of nightmares. Hats off to Anderson for creating a ship that is wonderful to look at, but bloody scary. It puts you on edge; you would not want to be on that ship if you had a choice. The design is simply breathtaking.
Being a sci-fi horror, things go wrong. It would seem the ship is alive, XO Starck is picking up “trace life forms” but its coming from the whole ship! Poor ol Baby Bear ends up being sucked into a black hole, Weir is acting weird, Captain Miller caught a case of the “willies”, Smithy is “no way getting on that bastard!”, Peters “won’t go back to medical” and D.J can handle Weir! Yes, everyone is getting a bit scared, and we the viewer are literally bricking it. The crew have to get on the Event Horizon due to the Gravity Drive letting out a burst of energy which damages the Louis and Clark. On the ship, it would seem the ship itself can get into the crews heads, it knows their fears. There are some genuinely scary scenes; one in particular sees Peters scared to death by almighty banging on a door just outside medical where she has just seen her injured son. The banging chases her to another room, where it starts again, and Weird Weir wants to “open the door”. There are moments of terror and really horror greatness in this film, another classic scene sees Weir trying to sort an electrical problem in a small set of compartments little by a bright green light. The lights flicker on and off, and he can hear his dead wife calling him “Captain Miller, I’ve got some problems here!” Yeh, too damn right you have
Tensions grow, especially between Weir and pretty much everyone else, and it’s clear the Dr Weir is up to no good, when he does eventually flip, its expected but not quite in the way he goes about it. Miller tries to stay strong for his crew, and to see the level headed captain start seeing his old friend on fire is a great moment, he’s the last person you expect to lose it. The whole cast do a fantastic job, they are all believable and genuine. Yes, there are some cheesy moments, mostly from Miller “You! Won’t! Take! My! Crew!”, but these moments are easily tolerable, and actually quite enjoyable, it gives a small sense of relief from the relentless scares. Miller has possibly one of the greatest lines in the film, after viewing a video of what the old crew did to themselves, he simply turns it off and states “we’re leaving”. The video they see is a masterstroke by Anderson, he never really lets you totally focus on it as it moves at such a fast pace and it only on screen for less than a minute. It is, however, a minute of some of the most horrific imagery you are ever likely to see. Play it back in slow motion, or frame by frame, it’s truly horrendous.
Crew members are lost, killed off in brilliant ways. Baby Bears suicide attempt is one of the worst to watch, but hell, Anderson really goes for it! There is blood all over the place, it’s astonishing just how violent this film actually is, it’s brutal. We are even given a Shining type scene as blood drips from the walls and eventually comes out in a massive wave. Whilst all the scares and carnage are happening, Anderson never loses sight of his story, or his skill to keep things interesting. The film is quite short, so the pace is relentless so you have the chance to take in the story, but you never get bored. It is, simply, one big scare after another, with some mind boggling special effects, horrific imagery, and a cast of superb actors. Event Horizon simply has everything you could ever wish for from a sci-fi horror, it is the perfect sci-fi horror, it is the best sci-fi horror of the nineties, wedged nicely in-between Alien and Sunshine as possibly the third best sci-fi horror ever! I could go on and on about how much i love this film, but i think I’ve said enough. What i will add tho, is if you haven’t seen it then you are missing out on something truly special. In fact, if you haven’t seen it, then what the fuck are you doing on this thread!! (meant in the nicest possible way )