Prior to starring as Morpheus in The Matrix in 1999 Laurence Fishburne starred in a British science fiction horror Event Horizon in 1997. The film was directed by Paul W. S. Anderson and co-starred Sam Neill and Sean Pertwee.
One of the more gory films that I have come across since coming to this planet, but it is also one of my favourite sci-fi horrors, and is up there with Alien in terms of creepy terror that takes place in the harrowing emptiness of space.
Now I warn you that this film has a lot of gore...so if that is not your thing then there is really no point reading on, therefore, you might as well go and play with your dolls or something. Now I should be only talking to horror fans, so as usual let me give you the lowdown on what is going on...
In 2047, a signal from the starship Event Horizon is received on Earth. The ship was built with an experimental drive, but after activating it the vessel disappeared without a trace in 2040 which was the worst space disaster in history. It was lost with all hands onboard, but the ship has suddenly reappeared and is now in a decaying orbit around Neptune. In the hopes of finding out what happened to it and the crew, another ship, the Lewis & Clark under the command of Captain Miller (Fishburne) is dispatched to rendezvous with the ship and bring it back to Earth. Onboard the Clark is Dr Weir (Neill), the man who designed the Event Horizon including its experimental gravity drive.
After arriving at Neptune, Weir briefs the crew about the Event Horizon telling them that the ship was fitted with a gravity drive designed to fold space creating a black hole and allowing instantaneous travel between two locations. The crew board the ship and start to explore, discovering a corpse with its eyes gouged out. Without warning Justin (Jack Noseworthy) is pulled into the gravity drive as it activates for no reason which emits a shockwave damaging the Lewis & Clark, Justin is pulled out of the core few moments later by Cooper (Richard T. Jones) but when he returns he is in a catatonic state.
With their ship damaged the crew transfer to the Event Horizon but learn that they have only twenty hours of oxygen left on board. As they investigate the ship they discover something sinister, and determine that the ship opened a rift in space-time but instead of jumping to another point in their universe actually went to a dimension of pure chaos, terror and horror...plus now that the ship has returned...it hasn't come back from that place alone...
As the crew start to see their worst nightmares Weir becomes increasingly unstable as the Event Horizon becomes a living nightmare for the crew of the Lewis & Clark.
The kind of people that should watch Event Horizon are those with a strong stomach because there are some truly gory moments. As the crew discover what happened to the previous crew they see a video log of the crew’s final moments when they were compelled to commit murders, rapes and self-mutilations. Eagle eyed viewers might see Brit babe Emily Booth in the video footage. Event Horizon is a splatter movie and so not surprisingly all manner of unpleasant things befall the unfortunate crew of the Lewis & Clark.
Sam Neill plays the part of the increasingly unhinged Dr Weir who is haunted by visions of his wife, who committed suicide because he was never there, and focussed all his attention on building the Event Horizon. The ship itself manifests a number of horrors that the audience does not see, this adds to the creepy nature of the proceedings because what people can imagine is far worse than anything filmmakers can show you. A scene where something is smashing into the otherside of a door, bending the metal is great, Weir attempts to open the door but is stopped. What was on the other side?? Are the crew going to encounter it as they try to escape the vessel alive??
I do find it a bit odd that Neill’s character was not onboard the Event Horizon when it originally launched, perhaps he was at his wife’s funeral or something, but it is never explained why he was not onboard the Event Horizon when it departed for the outer edges of the system to test the drive.
The cast all do a fine job, and are thoroughly entertaining with Sean Pertwee as one of my favourites, perhaps I am bias because I am a big fan of his anyway and also Jason Issacs is on great form here. The crew obviously have no idea what is happening, and are struggling with the realisation that the ship itself may have become some kind of life form that is trying to slaughter the crew of the Lewis & Clark.
There is a lot to like here, and some of the ideas seem to have been lifted and plonked into the Dead Space games, which I for one, am fine with. The special effects and CGI are used relatively sparingly so you are not watching a computer generated bonanza of different monstrosities.
One of the main drawbacks of the film is that the audience may wonder why some members of the crew believe that they were seeing something that couldn’t possibly be onboard the ship. The main example of this is when Lieutenant Peters (Kathleen Quinlan) sees an image of her young son running around the ship, seeing something scary is one thing, but surely Peters would have realised that there was no possible way her son could be on the ship so why would she follow him when he runs around?? I’ve been high on drugs before and yes there have been examples when I have hallucinated, but everything that I saw had context which made me believe that what I was seeing was real. In one drug induced dream, I saw my people’s invasion fleet lighting up the night, their ray guns criss-crossing the sky in a display that was as beautiful as it was devastating to human cities...and then I regained consciousness having collapsed and passed out on my ship’s main power reactor. It was then that I realised that my people had not invaded, and I was still on hold, I did not see a giant purple elephant because that would have made no sense even though I was on drugs. So how could a woman on a space ship that is in orbit around Neptune possibly believe that her son is actually onboard and is trying to find her?? It makes no sense, and honestly someone who is stupid enough to believe such an obvious hallucination deserves what she gets.
Anyhow, by and large, Event Horizon is a gore feast that has enough blood to satisfy most horror fans. Setting the story in space gives the filmmakers the chance to play around with such concepts as graphically illustrating explosive decompression which is not something horror fans get to see very often.
This is something of a cult classic and is not too widely known, which is a real pity because Even Horizon is a really good film, it is worth tracking down and watching, so is getting my Thumbs Up rating
8/10 - Gory horror that swaps the haunted house for a haunted spaceship and is one of the best examples of how truly isolating, and terrifying being trapped on a space ship with something that wants to kill you really is.