Rated R for strong violence and gore, language and some nudity.
Directed By: Paul WS Anderson
Written By: Phil Eisner
Staring: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neil, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Richard T. Jones, Jack Noseworthy, Jason Isaacs, and Sean Pertwee
“You can’t leave. She won’t let you.”
A rescue crew investigates a spaceship that disappeared into a black hole and has now returned…with someone or something new on-board.
Event Horizon has been noted by myself as one of the worst films of all time. It’s been nearly a decade since I took a glance at the movie and decided after suffering the arguments of many friends over the years to give it a go one more time. The results weren’t particularly shocking. It was still a pretty awful movie, though I admit maybe not one of the worst in the history of film.
Event Horizon is an exploratory ship that vanished on the outer rims of the solar system on it’s maiden voyage. Seven years later a new ship and crew has been sent to investigate what happened to the ship and crew. What they find is disturbing. An abandoned vessel somewhere in the depths of space, with signs of violence, and something foreboding in their future. When things start to get strange for the new crew it suddenly seems impossible to leave the Event Horizon.
The first thirty minutes really does build up a sense of tension for something ominous to happen in the near future. Sam Neill’s hallucinations, and the mystery of the missing crew, along with a few other signs of what were possibilities of violence make a definite concern for the new crew, and give an eerie sense of danger. Visually, there was a strange rawness that was initially intriguing, but eventually slipped away from being ominous, to just an overwhelming sense of dread. The darkness of space and the isolation of it was one part of the film that was shot and done right. There wasn’t a ton of big budget shots of the ship or galaxy, but it didn’t need them. It was more about being alone and away from all that was familiar.
What Event Horizon tries to interweave is the genre of Science Fiction and Horror. It is never easy to take two film genres that are very defined and somehow balance the two together to make an interesting and relevant film. This is where the director Paul WS Anderson failed the greatest in his attempts with this movie. The build up of events initially worked for Sci-Fi and Horror together, but loss of momentum halfway through and the focus on fear and violence instead of the mystery of the ship killed the pacing and the balance making the movie feel awkward, almost like two different directors were battling over which direction they were supposed to take the story in.
This indifference to taking the time to complement each genre into working with each other led to Event Horizon turning into a merciless slasher film. With the entire crew essentially making it to the halfway point the tension requires a slow build up to the violence, gore, and terror, but instead every gets offed at once. The importance of the character’s individuality and the fact that the viewer may have invested some emotions into each character is lost because they are killed like an extra in a horror film. There was a lot of reasonable character work done and it was a shame it was lost on a pointless slaughter.
Sam Neill made any chance of Event Horizon making sense of being believable possible. He is an infinitely talented actor, that makes any movie he’s in just a little bit better by his mere presence. Without him in his role of duality, the character of Dr. Weir would just come off as a complete joke. Dr. Weir is still over the top and his motivations along with his behavior and reactions don’t really work, but Sam Neill at least gives it some form of integrity. The rest of the cast did as a fine a job as could be done with the way the script was written and interpreted, but Richard T. Jones was the highlight, a character very likable with a massive amount of needed comic relief. He often felt like the only voice of reason.
Worst movie of all time? Maybe not. Perhaps I’ve grown enough in the past ten years to be able to appreciate some of Event Horizon’s attempts at being something great. Just because I’ve contemplated removing it from My Worst Films Ever list does not mean it’s not a terrible movie. It was a movie that had no sense of what it was, and a complete lack of direction.