Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'Event Horizon' (1997)
A movie that wasn't given enough respect by its director.
I've always wondered to myself why Event Horizon isn't higher on my list of top 10 horror movies. It's not that I don't firmly stand by my current position for it at #6. It's just that I never considered why it wasn't better as I haven't bothered to go back since I started reviewing movies. So, by this day, November the 13th, year of our lord 2019, eight years after having started my career as a movie critic, I returned to one of my all time favorite movies to give it a closer look.
It's here I figured out what's wrong with this movie. The directer phoned it the fuck in. He had something special, but it was delivered by trash studio Dimension Films that lost its cred and simply didn't take production seriously. There is so much about this movie that was flat out lazy. Paul Anderson must have been siting on his fucking thumbs, blowing bubbles the whole time. Or maybe he was just always a hack. Look at his track record. AvP, Mortal Combat, Resident Evil: After Life. This man is the king of shameless cash grab, trash films. I feel like the only time he got anything right, it was by accident. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that everything he's had a hand in almost has a signature sense of over processed laziness.
And it's a damn shame too because this movie was fucking amazing regardless of how careless it was handled. The cast was epic. I mean, Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson? There were fewer names I didn't know than names I did know. The acting was just fucking marvelous. Not quite award winning but damn good all the same. The set and FX were amazing, the atmosphere stunning, and again, I really don't believe the director was even trying. Thank fucking god his set crew was. The design and attention to detail was every bit as impressive as Alien (1979). I wish they'd used more modeling as apposed to CGI, but it was still really fucking good. The ship Event Horizon, was constructed with agonizing care you can seriously feel. And the story is just fucking griping.
I have a feeling that writer Philip Eisner is a Warhammer 40k fan. What's presented by the design and function of the gravity drive for the ship is in many respects similar to the gravity drives in the 40k universe. It's not a new concept, one that was even used by the TV series Babylon 5, but one that isn't used often and certainly never to this degree. More on that in the spoilers.
This movie was something truly special. Everything came together perfectly like the stars were fucking aligning or something. Sadly, it was largely overlooked by audiences when it came out. But again, it was Dimension Film. Hellraiser: Bloodlines had come out the year before and largely destroyed their reputation. Bloodlines was a highly anticipated film in a beloved franchise that turned out to be an obvious thoughtless cash grab which deeply disrespected the fans. For that reason, fans largely spurned Dimension Films, and rightly so. I almost didn't see Event Horizon in the theaters because I took one look at it and wrote it off as the 'new Hellraiser in space.' I was dragged by a friend and good damn thing too. I did not regret it the way I expected to.
Like I said, the fact that it was a hit seemed like almost an accident. When I watched it this time, it was like every scene I found myself saying "That's the take you went with?" Not that it was bad but the cutting just didn't have the same level of care as the acting, the FX, the design, the set, or the writing. It just felt like the director didn't care. Like some of the forced comic relief from two of the characters. Like the director confused the concept of good horror, and 'So Bad Its Good' horror. Like Richard T. Jones who played the role of Cooper. He seemed like he was supposed to be a stand in for Ice Cube from the movie Anaconda. He did an amazing job, which is significant, because his role was nigh embarrassing, completely irrelevant to the plot, and mostly existed for comedic filler. But he's one of my favorite characters from the movie because he owned that role and made it work despite how lazy it was.
But I digress, even with the director seemingly making no effort in this movie, it's #6 on my all time top 10. That's a feat in of itself. Had there been proper care put into this movie, it could have been #2 or #3. Everything about it was right. So much so that it didn't matter it wasn't perfect.
This movie is a must watch AND required viewing for Horror Heads. It delivered on something Dimension Films clearly had no intention on delivering ever again and haven't sense.
It was such a fascinating concept which easily spans both horror and Sci-Fi. The idea that, if there is a point in space beyond space, what is it and what's in it? As I mentioned before, the concept was touched on in the Warhammer 40k back in the 80s. A concept that was simply called 'The Warp.' The bridge between points in folded space was another dimension all together, and in all respects, what we call hell. Only the Event Horizon doesn't have the special field to protect it from the demons in the warp like the ships of Warhammer 40k. The ship becomes possessed, seemingly alive, with its own persona and motivations. It appears to have killed its former crew and is back for another one.
Anyone it can kill on the ship basically becomes a part of its retinue. It uses their guilt to control and manipulate them while they're alive. It can mess with their minds in deep and meaningful ways. The crew of the Lewis and Clark aren't killed by the Event Horizon, so much as they systematically get themselves killed due to their frantic missteps and hallucination. The only crew member that the ship directly attacks is Justin, when it sucks him into the gateway. Even still, Justin goes mad from his encounter with 'hell' and tries to kill himself. You could argue that the ship possessed him to do it, but the point is, ultimately Justin is the one who blows himself out an airlock.
It finally gets hold of Neill's character Weir, and has him go on a killing rampage. As a mater of fact, only one character dies before Weir starts killing the rest. The rest of the blood and gore is mostly cut scenes and video scrambles; setup for the rest of the movie.
I really do recommend this movie. Its special almost because it was nearly destroyed and still managed to be amazing. Imagine that I'm this harshly critical of this movie and yet it's still #6 on my all time top ten. Absolutely watch this.