Event Horizon

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.
(Dr. Weir)

– 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”.

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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.

3/4

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31 thoughts on “Event Horizon

  1. Haha me and my lady Louise went to see this at the cinema on release. It’s going to be “Aliens” for the 90’s we said, it’s got Doctor Who and Worzel Gummidge’s Son Sean Pertwee in it. This is going to be a nice action packed romp in space, battling crazy arse aliens. Cue, to being the only two in the cinema and one and a half hours later of being scared out of our minds. This wasn’t the romantic gun-ho action alien blaster we had expected. Funny we both remember it very well 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Okay, talk about coincidence. One of my upocoming reviews is for this movie, as it has just been placed on Netflix I thought it was about time to revisit it. I did not know about the backstory for this one, so thanks for sharing that. I love this film, it’s dark, intense and the atmosphere and setsdesigns are simply amazing. Great review as always 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha thanks! But I have actually written it before 😉 but still. The backstory is incredible. You can find more on the web… Moving the release because of The Titanic is such a pain in the ass. I can see why Anderson dicided to stick to RE later…at least some stability 😑😃 I will wzit for your review!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s funny, the first time I watched it I was so mesmerized I didn’t notice any of the weak points others later cited. To me it was just a very well paced and intensely potent horror story.
    I loved how the environment itself was a character, and the real villain. In a very Silent Hill style, the setting that entrapped them doubling as “the monster” means it’s almost impossible to escape “the monster”. It can appear at any time.
    Near the end the intensity of the gore and references to hell felt a little overdone, but the build up was great.
    One of the things I really liked was their use of incredibly brief shots to terrorize without fully revealing what they were showing to the audience.
    I also think Laurence Fishburne is a master of the craft.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! Very well said. These brief shots were terrific. My favourite sequence is when Sam Neill’s character starts to go crazy in all those tunnels. The designs of thr ships and sets are so richly detailed and it’s a rare thing. Makes me think of Outland, by the way.

      Fishburne is awesome – I really think that he is too underappreciated as an actor. He did a lot of good movies, plus some indies too, like The Signal (minimal sci-fi).

      Which other similar sci-fi horror/thriller can you recommend?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t seen a ton of sci-fi horror that I would recommend. Dark City is solid, though it’s important to mute the audio until you reach the bathroom. A producer forced an 11th hour “explain all” through.
        In the Mouth of Madness is good, has a similar “what’s really happening” feel, though it’s more fantasy horror than sci-fi.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t seen many good of it either, haha, that’s why I asked you… I loved 10 Cloverfield Lane and Pandorum was quite good, really creepy plus with a good plot. was Dark City is good although I wouldn’t put it to the horror category. Thanks for your recommendation for “In the Mouth…”, I will have a look at it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m a big fan of both 1 and 2. Pyramid Head, as he’s portayed in SH2 is definitely well done. Among other things I was pleased they didn’t give him human hands. You only see them briefly, but they resemble a three fingered, triangular hand, with thick webbing. With such a human form, that clearly sets him apart as not human.

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      • I would say he represents judgement, the desire to suffer for our sins as a form of atonement, and the question “do I want to die?” It’s notable that in most encounters he’s driven off by attacks, but unlike other enemies, he never falls. In the first formal fight a siren calls him away. In later ones it’s strictly avoid or outrun him, and in the final confrontation he destroys himself. I think that shows that he is not an enemy to beat so much as one you resist, and if you resist enough you earn a reprieve. With all his strength it seems clear he could do more harm, suggesting there are unseen rules restraining him. Which, by the way, is my favorite type of monster, one with more power than a human, and greater restrictions.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wow. That is more or less the same what I’ve been feeleing of it, but was never able to summarize it so perfectly.

        Perfect answer, which argues clearly why he (it…) is so much more than just a serial rapist as many fans said.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I remember that scene, and it does feel odd. My best guess is that since the mannequins represent sexuality, Pyramid Head is channeling James’s own desire for release, and his hidden anger towards both his lust and the object of his lust. But that’s only a theory.

        Liked by 1 person

      • And having read your recent post, and the linked article, I now am inclined to agree with that author that Pyramid Head is formally and consistently a destroyer.

        Liked by 1 person

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