Happy Halloween ladies and gentlemen! On this lovely day of Samhain, I was hoping to have another episode of the Nerdiest Talk Show on Earth for you… But tragically both Brandon and I find ourselves with our plates full. As fall comes to a close, my co host is working tirelessly on competition and Friday Night Performances that his schedule is pretty well tied up until we enter the winter months. As for me, well I am preparing myself for a trip to Bowling Green State University next weekend for their annual Humans vs. Zombies Invitational which everyone who can attend should attend and have some other projects that have filled up my time. So sadly no video this week. But fear not! We will be recording this weekend and we will have a new episode up next Thursday. But for now I have decided to honor the ‘horror’ elements of this Holiday and review a horror film from the 1990’s and wouldn’t you know it a film by the man behind the Resident Evil film franchise, Paul WS Anderson. For those of you who do not know how I feel about that particular franchise you can read it all here and understand that when I say I am not a fan of Anderson’s, that is an understatement. But does that necessarily discredit ever movie that the man has directed? Well… no… Well okay out of all of his movies there is one that I can find passable… And it just so happens to be the one that we are reviewing today. I’ll freely admit that I do like this movie and find it to be pretty enjoyable all things considered. Though granted whenever I say that this film is the best film in Anderson’s oeuvre is by no means a compliment.
Set in the year 2047, Event Horizon is about a rescue mission to rescue the crew of the ship of the same name. Lead by veteran Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) and under the guidance of Event Horizon’s designer Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) the crew travels to Neptune’s orbit to discover what happened to the ship in its seven year disappearance. On the way to the ship Weir shares with the crew that the real reason for the Event Horizon’s voyage was to test an experimental gravity drive that would create an artificial black hole in two points of the universe that the ship would travel through, thus making space travel a far quicker process. The crew finds the ship adrift and the entire crew gone. After further inspection they find that the ship itself is intact but finds strange life signatures everywhere. While searching, one of rescue team, Justin (Jack Noseworthy) is sucked through the gravity drive vortex into another realm and causes a chain reaction that damages Miller’s ship, the Lewis and Clark and strands the crew on the Event Horizon. The remainder of the story follows the crew as they discover what happened to the ship when it traveled through the black hole and try as well as trying to escape with their lives.
The film was initially a flop during its original run, only earning back $26 million of its $60 million dollar budget and received generally negative reviews from critics with an overall score of 22% being awarded to it on Rotten Tomatoes. But since then the film has received a cult following and has earned back the money that it lost in its initial theatrical run.
Genuinely Terrifying Feel and Builds Mood and Characters Very Well
Yes, the film does rely on a handful of jump scares and we will get to that in a moment. But what the film does not get enough credit for is the atmosphere that it builds. The ship itself has an ominous feel to it and you can just tell from the very beginning that something is seriously wrong with it… But you just can’t quite be sure what it is. The real terror does not come in the jump scares or the ‘intended’ horror moments. But really comes from the ambiance, the overall ominous feel that seems to surround everyone, and will not relent even for a second.
It also allows itself for a slow build. Instead of feeling the need to start killing characters off within the first ten minutes, it allows you the time with the characters. You get to know Miller and understand his extreme devotion to his crew after his actions caused the death of another man. You feel for Peters (Kathleen Quinlan) and her desire to return home to be with her son. The crew has a family feel to them and you sympathize when one of them falls by the wayside. These areas are truly the best parts of the film.
A Surprisingly Strong Cast that Would Later Go on to Bigger and Better Things
Just a small note, but this film includes some decently big named actors. Not only do we have Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill who was at the time, riding high on the Jurassic Park fame. But you also have a young Jason Isaacs, who plays DJ in one of his first roles who you might remember as the man who plays Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter films, Armageddon, and Black Hawk Down. Also Starck is played by Joely Richardson who you might remember as Julia McNamara from the television show Nip/Tuck. A Small detail, but a cool one.
Its a Fun B Sci-Fi Horror Film
This really is an underrated genre that wasn’t appreciated until years after its time. But just like Pitch Black, Event Horizon is another decently directed and decently performed B style Sci-Fi Horror Film that just didn’t have an audience in the mid 1990’s. For what it is, a film about a group of people stumbling upon a ship that went to ‘Hell’ itself and plans to pull them back into Hell just for the absolute joy of doing so, I thoroughly enjoy it.
The Film Has Multiple Half Used Plot Threads (Minor Spoilers)
I wish they would have just stuck to one strong premise instead of using a handful of half-assed attempts. The premise of the film is that the ship has gained sentience after traveling to ‘hell’ and is now intending on bringing the crew of the Lewis and Clark to hell just like the first crew. This manifests into several hallucinations, shared by Weir, Miller, and Peters. Weir sees his wife who committed suicide, Miller is plagued by the cries of his former shipmate Eddie Corrick who he let die in a zero gravity fire, and the third is Peters who keeps seeing her son who is on Earth. Which is all well and good, but what about the others? It would be nice to see how the other five characters are being effected by the ship, if they are even being effected at all. Cooper (Richard T Jones) and Starck later see the walls of the ship bleeding… Which really makes no sense since the ship hasn’t manifested this before, but unless either of them has a fear of blood this has no bearings on the ship ‘knowing their fears’. DJ and Smith (Sean Petwree) never once seem to be afflicted by the ship except that it gives them ‘the creeps’.
Then there is the whole question of why is the ship killing these people in the first place? I mean, it is a horror film so it would make sense to kill characters one by one and in a way Smith’s death can be attributed to the fact that Weir needed to strand them on the Event Horizon in the first place and he was just collateral to ensure maximum amount of souls. But it would seem that the idea is to bring as many crew members as possible into the gateway so they can be tortured in hell. So why kill Peters and DJ which the ship and Weir clearly do? Do their souls stay on the ship to be brought into hell? Because that is never once hinted at. Peters is killed by the hallucinations of the ship so the ship itself is responsible for her and Weir just straight up vivisects DJ and has the same opportunity with Starck but just knocks her out… Because evil I guess. Because of this, the motives of the antagonist just feel gray and we have to caulk up the deaths to a meta understanding of how movies like this work.
Relies Too Heavily on Jump Scares and Horror Tropes Instead of Letting the Atmosphere Do Its Job
It really is a shame that this film felt the need to use cheap scares in order to bring the horror element to the movie. I suppose we can also caulk this up to the fact that it was the 90’s and the world was just coming off of the Slasher Flick craze of the 80’s and was transitioning into the intentional/unintentional self parody of the genre that we see today… But really with a film that does such a good job at building atmosphere and genuine terror, it kills me to see the film using classic ‘jump scare’ tropes just to add some shock value in a film that really doesn’t need it. The jump scares really do take you out of the film and hurts the other areas that are really intense and scary.
The film is pretty good. It has some really great moments but also some not so great moments as well. It has strong atmosphere and a strong cast of characters behind it, but at the same time relies too much on cheap scares as well as spotty writing with the numerous amounts of half-assed plot threads and questionable motives. For what it is, it is a good movie that is easily worth at least a one time watch.
Final Score 2.5/5
Thank you for reading and as always if you enjoyed this review then please like and subscribe for more. I will be returning this Sunday with my latest review of Tom Hanks’ new movie Captain Phillips and if you can please join me at the Bowling Green Humans vs. Zombies Invite next weekend November 7th-10th.