Event Horizon (1997) Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
“I created the Event Horizon to reach the stars, but she’s gone much, much farther than that. She tore a hole in our universe, a gateway to another dimension. A dimension of pure chaos.”
Far and away the best of Paul W.S. Anderson’s films (or at least those I have seen thus far), Event Horizon is an intense mixture of science fiction and horror with clear echoes of Ridley Scott’s Alien –there are even some nods to other classic horror films like The Shining. While it begins with an immensely intriguing premise, Event Horizon soon wanders into made-for-television territory for me in the second half of the movie. The grungy, realist science fiction at the beginning descends into a bizarre, unexplained bloody massacre with odd doses of Looney Tunes-esque comedy in the second half. Nevertheless, this is an interesting example of ‘90s science fiction, I suppose.
Set in 2046, Sam Neill plays Dr. William G. “Billy” Weir, a leading scientist and designer of a space ship called the Event Horizon which disappeared 7 years prior while it was en route to Proxima Centauri. However, the ship has suddenly reappeared in orbit around Neptune and it is emitting a distress signal. He leads a somewhat reluctant crew helmed by Captain S.J. Miller (Laurence Fishburne) aboard the Lewis and Clark to investigate the suspended Event Horizon and rescue any surviving crew. The crew includes: a second-in-command named Lt. M.L. Starck (Joely Richardson), pilot “Smitty” Smith (Sean Pertwee), medical technician Peters (Kathleen Quinlan), engineer Ensign F.M. Justin (Jack Noseworthy), doctor D.J. (Jason Isaacs), and rescue technician Cooper (Richard T. Jones).
Upon arrival, they find a frozen, derelict ship which has somehow returned after ripping a hole into another dimension. The former crew were all horribly murdered, and now the newly arrived crew of the Lewis and Clark (awakened from cryo-sleep) begins experiencing strange hallucinations revealing a dark past for each character. It soon becomes apparent that the ship is alive and it has opened a gate to a hellish place and returning it to our universe. In time, Dr. Weir is driven mad a la The Shining and sabotages the mission. There is plenty of gore and hellish brutality which was all a bit ridiculous and disappointing in my view, on top of some slapstick comedy. In the end, Captain Miller detonates explosives, destroying the bulk of the Event Horizon along with a hideously disfigured, deranged Dr. Weir. Cooper, Starck, and Justin narrowly survive in a small section of the ship. As a rescue ship arrives, Starck continues having hallucinations about Dr. Weir and the film ends. Apparently, there is a director’s cut lurking out there, since much of the footage was cut in order to keep the R-rating, however I have no desire to track it down. In recent years, this film has received a minor reappraisal along with a growing cult following, and there have also been some rumors about creating an Event Horizon miniseries. It is a pretty extraordinary story for a film that was long considered a failure, and which Paul W.S. Anderson initially worried was a slander of Paramount’s Star Trek.
Although Event Horizon isn’t one of my favorites, it was an interesting endeavour for how it science-fictionalized Hell, as daring as that was and still can be I suppose. I was used to seeing sci-fi horror like this, thanks to how much I enjoyed Alien, that I could appreciate how any new film could have a sufficiently original idea. It indeed takes a film like this to refresh our love for wild imagination in the SF universe. Thank you for your review.
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I agree, I really wanted be more invested in Event Horizon, but it just wasn’t there for me. Thanks for all your insights and hope your year is off to a great start Mike!
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You’re very welcome and thank you for your review of Top Gun: Maverick too.
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