Director: Paul W. S. Anderson. Starring: Sam Neill, Laurence Fishburne, Kathleen Quinlan. USA, 1997. Budget: $60 mln. Box office: $27 mln. IMDB: 6.7. My rating: 3/4. Sci-fi/horror/thriller in deep space.
– Where we’re going, we don’t need eyes to see.
– You will never be alone anymore. Now you are with me. I have beautiful things I want to show you.
(Dr. Weir’s dead wife)
Darkness, space, hell, madness and obscurity. Such a cheerful company. Welcome on board of the “Event Horizon”.
Before Paul Anderson entered the endless Resident Evil epos, he did some other notable films as well, like “Mortal Combat” and “Event Horizon”. We all know how his films look, right? I suppose almost every teenager (well, I speak mostly for boys) had a period, when he is eager to watch stuff about zombies, strange creatures, space and stuff. So what happens when these boys grow up? Some make movies, others watch them. Mostly, without being too serious about it. If there is a movie for each occasion, so for me these movies are perfect to watch late on a Friday, when the brain protests against any kind of work. Or after a late party, when you come home late but still not sleepy. But… “Event Horizon” is not exactly what you would expect from a typical Paul Anderson’s film.
It’s also has a very curious and bleeding produciton history, probably one of the best I’ve ever read together with ”The Island of Dr. Moreau”.
The production. I think it would be interesting to know some stuff about the production, it’s worth it with “Event Horizon“. As the crew of the spaceship went through hell, so did the production team. The director was forced to release it weeks before it was planned, the filming of many scenes was still going on during the final 4 weeks when the cutting and editing had already started, from 130 minutes it was cut to 95. Anderson himself admitted that the test screening was a failure. One more thing happened accidentally at the same time – the release of “The Titanic” was delayed, thus now Paramount wanted to release “Event Horizon” in august to fill the summer blockbuster gap.
The problem with the original version was that it was a R-rated horror with extreme gore, cannibalism, orgy scenes with real porn actors hired, mutilated characters with amputated limbs. Does it sound like a typical summer blockbuster?
Hence the cuts. So “Event Horizon” was a big flop, earning barely 2/3 of its budget (around $60 million, quiet a big number for a horror science fiction). Surprisingly, after the DVD release it started to sell so well, that Paramount contacted Anderson to recreate the full version. But all the extra-footage was lost due to “inappropriate storage”. However, in 2012 Anderson suddenly told that a VHS was found with the original rough cut and he is planning ti have a look at it. So, the story goes on.
What about the movie itself? It looks raw. In a very broad sense of this word. You can easily see a lot of excellent and weird stuff shining through, but it’s obvious that for the fore-mentioned reasons it wasn’t elaborated/edited well enough. I am pretty sure the cut scenes are really needed. Still, it has a lot to offer and is definitely worth watching. The plot is simple – a rescue crew is going to investigate a space ship that disappeared some time ago. As they arrive there, strange stuff starts to happen.
What makes the film so remarkable is the atmosphere and the design ship, which was actually inspired by Notre Dame De Paris. Even 20 years later after the release, I can say it is for sure one of the most impressive spaceship designs ever. It’s… gothic. There is even some resemblance with ”Alien” / ”Alien 3” in the atmosphere. The space ship has all the strange Middle Ages architectural elements, combined with electronics. It looks like a church with coffin-like corridors, ornaments, cross-shaped windows, on-wall drawing and pillars.
Most beautiful shots in the movie are with the ship design. It is the heart of the story. As the plot progresses and the atmosphere becomes darker, the gothic design of the space ship blends perfectly with the increasing craziness of the team, slipping more and more into the darkness. Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne look very enthusiastic in their roles. Dr. Weir is particularly sinister in his double role and wicked one-liners like “Where we’re going, we don’t need eyes to see”. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about other part of the cast whose characters are less interesting and this is where the movie drowns a little.
Worth watching? Raw, bleeding and uneven, “Event Horizon” still manages to keep the story tense with sinister visuals and growing sense of madness. The movie is worth seeing just because of the amazing gothic space ship design and how it blends with the story. It is flawed, but still often manages to find the right nerve. There is omething catchy in this movie, so the popularity it gained over the years is understandable. Even in this amputated final edit, it mixes space, sci-fi, hell, gorgeous design, religious symbols and haunting visions in a way we don’t get often.