The Event Horizon, a ship that went missing years ago, has turned up within Neptune’s orbit. A rescue mission is dispatched to investigate, but it is clear when they arrive that some strange shit has gone down. Now the rescue crew must face off against the evil on board that threatens to take their very souls.
The first thing that really jumped out at me was the impressive production design at work here. Everything had a polished Alien meets Hellraiser design to it and its something that I’ve never really seen before. I was quite taken with the set design, especially the gravitational core/gateway to hell. I also loved the costume design. The crew’s clothing and space suits were very reminiscent of the Nostromo crew from Alien, which is my favorite film of all time.
The best performance in the film, far and away, is Laurence Fishburne. Props to Hollywood for casting a man of color as their protagonist in a genre that has historically killed them off first. Diversity in lead roles has been a problem in Hollywood for years, so seeing Fishburne get to show off was a real treat. Man, did he bring the heat in this film. Although some of his dialogue was badly written, not once does he fail to commit. Every line is delivered whole heartedly and his presence on screen is undeniable. I bought him as the crew’s captain and as our main hero.
I really love the concept of this film: a spaceship capable of interdimensional travel accidently traveling to hell and bringing a piece of hell back with it. That’s a really cool and interesting premise. That being said, the execution leaves much to be desired.
The biggest cardinal sin a horror film can commit is not being scary. There’s a lot contributing to this. Most of the characters aren’t given any development, so I found myself not really caring if any of them died. If more time had been spent fleshing out these characters, they might have felt like real people. Instead, I saw the stage show for what it was.
I imagine a lot of time and money was spent on making this film flashy and pretty. There’s an over-reliance on CG that has hamstrung the overall immersion of the film. Horror films that utilize practical effects more than CG, tend to have a longer shelf life. While the movie has its fair share of practical, the digital effects have aged horribly. Such is the danger with how quickly technology advances and why I’m a strong advocate for practical effects over digital.
As a writer, someone who spends the majority of his time with words and stories, bad writing sticks out like a sore thumb to me and throws me out of the experience. There is a lot of it in this film. Character motivations are all over the place, and the script leaves more questions than answers. There are also leaps in logic that are bewildering to me. For example, one crew member keeps seeing her kid on this derelict ship. They try to set it up as the ship is fucking with her mind and playing on her home sickness. However, she knows she’s not crazy and that the ship is screwing with all of them. The film makers expect you to believe that a rational person would logically believe their nine-year-old son is on a derelict ship and follow this obviously fake son to their doom.
The worst part of the movie was when one of the crew got blasted into space and separated from the ship. He uses his O2 supply like a jetpack to get back to the ship, all the while screaming to no one in particular, “Here I come, motherfuckeeeeers!” I groaned audibly and slapped my palm to my forehead.
There’s also some awful performances from the other actors, the worst offender being Sam Neill. I love me some Jurassic Park, but he is not good in this. I don’t really blame him for it though as it was likely the direction he was given that led him astray.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson has never really impressed me, in fact, most of his films are duds if you ask me. Some like Mortal Kombat or the first Resident Evil film have become guilty pleasures, but I think he’s the reason this film feels like a missed opportunity. He tries to pay homage to films like Alien and Hellraiser, but demonstrates a lack of understanding on what fundamentally made those films scary. He throws some weird body horror stuff in the film, but shows them off in quick, jump-cut fashion. You never really get to fully appreciate these wonderfully done practical makeup effects.
I think Event Horizon had some things really going for it, but the ball was dropped on too many things for me to really gravitate to the film. There’s some entertainment to be had, but if you’re looking for great story telling, keep on searching.