The third film of Brit Paul Anderson is an unexpected surprise. His first film Shopping (1994) was a pleasantly nihilistic trifle, predictable and almost annoying but al least visually interesting enough to make one think that maybe his next might be better. But his next was Mortal Kombat (1995 / trailer), a piece of true blue commercial crap, starring the Great God of Lousy Movies Christopher Lambert and based on a computer game, and all hope was gone—another hack and not much more. Then, unexpectedly, this film found its way into the theaters, where for some inexplicable reason it disappeared much too quickly. Dark and depressing, more a horror film than a science fiction film, its brief run belays the fact that it is actually a rather interesting, visually kinetic and at times highly effective cross genre mixture—sort of The Shining (1980 / trailer) meets Solaris (1972 / trailer) but without the pretensions, spiced a little with bits of Tron (1982 / trailer), Alien (1979 / trailer) and Hellraiser (1987 / trailer). Its obvious sources and its supposed extreme bloodiness have earned this film a lot a of derogatory ridicule, but truth be told, originality is only one aspect to rate a film—and often a questionable one, in this post-postmodern world—and, as any fan of horror, action or similar genre films can tell you, Event Horizon really isn’t extremely bloody, its just sorta bloody. In fact, it is probably realistically bloody, considering the situations of the story—rather unlike most Hollywood productions. The special effects are good enough, if not at times excellent, though many have complained that the computer animation is obviously fake. This is true, actually, but who cares? Cameron’s Titanic (1997 / trailer) had a bigger budget and didn’t do that much better.
Event Horizon is a horror film in space, complete with slamming doors, haunted house—er, ship—ghosts, killer demon, body count and open ending. Either you like this type of movie or you don’t, bastá. One disadvantage this film has over most of its ilk is that it actually works better in the cinema than on the tube, if only because the varied tones of dark tend to blend or disappear on video, as does the film’s fine use of sound. Likewise, the overall claustrophobic effect in the spaceships and the incredible sense of never-ending expanse of the space scenes all suffer on the little screen. But at least the acting is excellent all around and doesn’t suffer on the small screen, everyone involved being able to quickly present and establish their characters and individual personalities amazingly quickly, equally due to being cast to type and talent. Still, fat chance this film will see a re-release or art-house run, so make do with damaged goods found at the DVD store.
Know the story? Spaceship disappears, reappears years later, a rescue and salvage team is sent to find out what happened and all hell breaks loose.... but as the character Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) says at one point, “Hell is only a word. The reality is much, much worse.” The rescue ship sent, the Lewis and Clark, is under the command of Captain Miller (Lawrence Fishburne), and with Dr. Weir, the designer of the Event Horizon in tow, they travel way out to Neptune and board the deserted, drifting ship. Of the first three who go on board, Justin (Jack Noseworthy) is the first to experience the unknown, a meeting that eventually makes him walk out an airlock and blow some guts in space (put in suspended animation, he is still one of the few that supposedly survive at the end—though, truth be told, the film ends in such a way that the viewers can decide for themselves whether there are actually any survivors or not). One explosion later and the Lewis & Clark needs some heavy duty repairs, leaving everyone stranded in the meantime on a ghost ship full of the splattered remains of its initial crew. Ain’t long before long the individual guilts, ghosts and fears of the various crew members begin to manifest themselves. It seems that the “Gravity Drive,” as special propulsion system developed by Dr. Weir that recreates a black hole so that the ship can travel by jumping dimensions—solar systems?—took the Event Horizon somewhere else than just another solar system. Not only that, but the ship brought something back, something that don’t wanna play canasta.
Okay, so Peters (Kathleen Quinlan) does run around alone when she should know better, but how else can there be a body count? That Weir goes bad is believable, however, if only because the guilt he feels about the loss of his wife opens him up to the promise the entity seemingly gives him—a broken, weak person from the beginning, his possession, per say, is as logical as that of the little girl in The Exorcist (1973 / trailer). What is a bit less explainable is why Lt. Stark (Joely Richardson), Cooper (Richard T. Jones), DJ (Jason Isaacs) and Smith (Sean Pertwee) don’t seemingly have much problems with inner demons—not that it keeps the last two alive, though.Actually, like all horror films, if you want to pick the film apart, you can do so relatively easily. But in the end, the whole thing about the supernatural is that it doesn’t operate by logical or normal reasoning, so ignore the holes and enjoy the film. Event Horizon offers a pretty good ride, if you let it. (As would Cooper, one can imagine, if his offer of something hot and black were taken up.)