Event Horizon (1997)

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“A rescue crew investigates a spaceship that disappeared into a black hole and has now returned…with someone or something new on-board.” — IMDb

This was my second viewing of Event Horizon and… I loved it even more than the first. I’ve heard it described as some kind of bizarre lovechild of Alien and Hellraiser and while I agree that it pays homage to both (I mean, Clive Barker DID consult on the movie in pre-production), it’s definitely its own strange beast. It’s also worth noting that this film did not do well upon its release, grossing only $47 million or so, not even recouping its $60 million production budget.

It’s likely that I’m going to love any horror, sci-fi, or thriller based in space. Not only is space completely badass and fascinating on its own, but it’s a TERRIFYING setting for literally anything to go wrong. YOU’RE IN SPACE. There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, no way to escape… hell, there’s often not even a reliable way to communicate with anyone outside of your own ship/base. It’s isolating in the best (and worst) kind of way.

In Event Horizon, it’s the crew of the Lewis and Clark — including the fearless Captain Miller (played by Laurence Fishburne) — who are heading out to explore the mysteriously re-appeared Event Horizon after receiving a distress signal. It had disappeared during its maiden voyage 7 years prior, so they are on a mission to see what went wrong, and they’ve brought along the ship’s designer, Dr. William Weir (played by Sam Neill).

It’s pretty obvious from the get-go that something went horribly wrong. They find the crew all massacred. They check out the core of the ship which is one of the coolest damn things I’ve seen anywhere (and was originally supposed to have a much more sleek, futuristic look until Paul W.S. Anderson, the director, decided to give it a more mechanical, interlocking design as a homage to Hellraiser’s puzzle box), and when the ship’s gravity drive is knocked into action, it activates… and then one of the crew puts his freaking arm through it (I am continually amazed by how many movie characters will just put their body into another dimension) and goes full blown catatonic from what he saw on the other side, and shortly after attempts suicide and is put into stasis.

The entire crew experiences intense hallucinations that seem to be catered to their own fears and emotions. They are, of course, stranded at this point, since the Lewis and Clark was damaged and repairs are taking longer than they hoped. They find the last video log of the Event Horizon’s crew and it is messed up, including the captain holding up his just gouged out eyes and warning “liberate tuteme ex inferis” (“save yourself from hell”). CHILLS. Shit is not going well and they soon come to realize that the ship has, thanks to its gravity drive, managed to get to some kind of otherworldly (and obviously hellish) dimension, and now has a life of its own, its only goal to lure its passengers back to hell. Fuck.

“You can’t leave. She won’t let you.”

The tension is, understandably, high throughout the entire movie. Even before things start to go wrong, it’s made clear that the crew is not excited about their voyage, having been called off of a scheduled leave to make it. The atmosphere, though, is what really makes it. You are just creeped out the entire time. It’s not even in the same realm as a movie that centers around a serial killer or any kind of single being wreaking havoc. It’s THE SHIP YOU’RE TRAVELING IN. The ship you’re stuck in is literally trying to destroy you and drag you to hell. Creepy doesn’t begin to cover it. It has a decent amount of gore and disturbing images, so it’s interesting to know that Anderson had to cut a good 30 minutes from his original version of the movie to appease the test audiences and studio (which he apparently regretted later).

“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. Pure… evil. When she crossed over, she was just a ship. But when she came back… she was alive! Look at her, Miller. Isn’t she beautiful?”

There’s also some fantastic scenes that stick out in my mind. The frozen body that had been previously floating around smashing to the ground (and to pieces) when the gravity is switched back on. The sound of Peters’ son scraping against the plastic on the exam table during one of her hallucinations. Dr. Weir traveling through the green duct with the lights strobing on and off. Justin snapping back into reality while he’s in the airlock and starting to panic, begging “Mama Bear, open the door”. When they realize they made a mistake in the transmission translation, originally thinking it said “save me from hell” but now knowing it said “save yourself from hell”. Just so good. And the sole survivors are a black man and a woman, so, BONUS.

Rating: 8.5/10 | Director: Paul W.S. Anderson | Writer: Philip Eisner | Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson

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