by Jacob Wingate-Bishop
Event Horizon tells the story of the Lewis and Clark – a spaceship whose crew is tasked with the top-secret mission of locating a supposedly lost, interstellar vessel, the Event Horizon; a vessel wielding an experimental ‘Gravity Drive’, which has taken it to another dimension. A dimension, it seems, like something out of Paradise Lost – a living Hell, which has possessed the ship, and those who wish to reclaim it. In many ways, it’s your standard action movie set in space, where the characters are all subjected to fighting, sudden explosions and low-quality computer-generated images.
The motion picture was directed by Paul Anderson (Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, Alien vs Predator), and released in 1997, starring a plethora of on-screen talent, from Sam Neill (Doctor Weir) to Laurence Fishburne (Captain Miller), Kathleen Quinlan and Jason Isaacs. While at the time it was a box office flop, the home media market saw an influx in popularity, and since, Event Horizon has gained a cult following among the horror fans and sci-fi followers alike. Indeed, if a full, director’s cut of the movie was ever found, it would certainly become the holy grail of lost horror movie media.
Event Horizon is, admittedly, somewhat of a product of its time – the special effects in it are pretty poor by today’s standards, the fight scenes look laughably silly at points and there’s more than one occasion of wooden acting. Sam Neill, in particular, does not give his finest here; a particular scene toward the end of the movie between he and Fishburne’s character boasts both awful acting and dialogue.
Also, for a special-effects budget as high as Event Horizon’s, it’s a shame that a Hell dimension – alluded to and teased throughout the 90-minute runtime – a place of ‘pure evil’, never lives up to the hype. It’s supposed to be this incomprehensibly malevolent world of constant anguish and abject horror. Instead, it consists largely of spare bits of set from Cube. Perhaps the movie should have taken a leaf from Lovecraft’s book, and left audiences to merely speculate what lurks beyond the gateway.
That’s not to say it’s a B-list movie with an A-list cast, however. Event Horizon remains a pretty solid movie, regardless of the Lucas-esque dialogue at points, or abysmal CGI fluid textures. For one thing, it has a great premise: the hellish nightmare and viscera of Hellraiser marrying the utter isolation and sci-fi horror of Alien. Ultimately, the fusion ends up creating a dish that fails to meet the lofty heights of either, but nonetheless it’s carried off with a thoroughly well-crafted execution.
The attention to detail on both ships throughout the movie is meticulous; you fully believe that these are two vessels fit for intergalactic travel. Every cable feels like it has a purpose, every obligatory sliding door leads to another room, full of scientific equipment and apparatus just as believable. Likewise, the characters are wholly realistic, with interactions – for the most part – natural and fluent.
Throughout the first half of the movie, we don’t know whether to maintain wary of Captain Miller, who seems bullish and annoyingly stubborn at the best of times, or Doctor Weir, a man whose lust for knowledge knows no bounds. Both characters have flaws, both have their motives, and it makes for an interesting human rivalry; aside from the supernatural horror which looms constantly over them.
It was never going to be the next Titanic, but twenty-five years on, Event Horizon remains a classic, with feet firmly in the science-fiction and horror worlds. So what if it’s a bit hammy? Who cares if some of the science-speak sounds iffy at times? It’s allowed to. It’s a gore-fest, an interstellar showdown, an action flick with its heart in the right place (splattered over the walls half the time). And, most importantly, it lives up to the tagline.