Fright Fest 2019: Event Horizon (1997)
This is not the first time I have reviewed this movie. In fact, it isn’t the first time I have reviewed this movie for this site. But it happened to come up as relevant to the theme for this month and all I could think was, “I couldn’t just recycle the old review, could I? That wouldn’t be right.”
There are certain plot formulas that will win me over, just for coming into the room and saying, “hello”. And one such formula is that of the ghost ship, especially if you add in a kind of cautionary angle. The ship had gone off on some kind of exploratory mission, was never heard from again and then, decades later just shows up, abandoned. I love the inherent darkness and peril that hovers just outside the borders of those stories and the first time you read or watch something like that, you spend most of your time clenching, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Now if you were to make that concept into a sci-fi movie, there’s going to be little chance I won’t like it. You’d have to try pretty hard to turn me away.
Enter into the conversation, Event Horizon.
So maybe you shouldn’t give this review any weight because the person writing it isn’t coming from an impartial point of view. Maybe I should adopt a more discerning eye for the more important flaws of a movie and be willing to put my feelings aside in the essential dissection of the mechanics of a film in review.
Maybe there’s some value to that point but I’m not doing it. Sorry.
I mean, not really but you know what I mean.
The premise of the movie is (as ideal for horror) simple and effective. Sam Neil plays Dr. William Weir, a man who is in mourning for the death of his wife and in the midst of this is called to duty in the investigation of an exploratory vessel he helped design, years ago. The Event Horizon, created for deep space exploration, has suddenly reappeared after vanishing without a trace and with no explanation.
A salvage crew led by Captain Miller (played by the outstanding Laurence Fishburne) has been scrambled to go to the ship and Weir has been tasked to accompany them, as an expert on its technology.
What happened to the Event Horizon? Where has it been all this time? Why has it come back? What happened to the crew? All questions that will need to be answered in the course of their mission. And after a quick introduction to our cast of characters, the story is moving full speed. What I think the film uses most effectively is that of isolation and foreboding. As soon as the ship catches up to the Event Horizon and boards her, you have a sense of something dark about the ship and that Weir knows something that he isn’t sharing with the rest of the crew. All of this unfolds nicely as most everyone starts to come unhinged and eventually they are trapped on the Event Horizon.
As the ship’s creator, Weir seems to be especially affected by the ship as his recent emotional traumas are exploited to bring him around to a rapidly descending path into madness.
For me, Event Horizon is all about the claustrophobia you manage to feel within the immense vastness of space. Every scene is oozing tension with the mystery of what might be lurking around the corner and what entity may have returned as a part of this cursed ship. You spend most of the film bracing yourself for coming upon the brutal end that you know most of these characters are destined for.
There is a certain mythology around this film on the subject of the infamous director’s cut. Evidently there was quite a bit of footage in the film that was removed as it was thought too disturbing and considering what did end up in the final product, I can only imagine what that would entail. However, while footage like this would normally be reserved for an eventual re-release as a blu-ray collector’s edition, that footage has sadly been lost forever as it was evidently exposed as a result of being improperly archived. For some reason, for me this gives the film a little extra bit of aura, somewhat along the lines of all the mysterious problems that existed on the set of The Exorcist. After being simply missing for years, the lost footage from Event Horizon was found in a Transylvanian salt mine. That in and of itself is begging to have a book written about it.
Event Horizon is a beautifully shot film with fantastic atmosphere and tension. I love all the scenes on the ship with thunder rumbling outside even though it makes no fracking sense that they would be able to hear thunder while in orbit. After all, in space no one can hear…well you get the point. Still, I love it. Maybe I’m being suckered into the fly trap of the film’s superficiality but I don’t care. It’s a movie I love to watch and I would place it on a level as being a later generation’s version of Hellraiser, another favorite of mine.
Sometimes things that we think are lost come back. And sometimes they bring friends. Check this film out and you can see a pretty good example of this.
Chad A. Clark is an author of dark-leaning fiction, born and raised in the middle of the United States. His road began in Illinois, along the banks of the Mississippi and from there he moved to Iowa, where he has lived ever since. From an early age, he was brined in the glory that is science fiction and horror, from the fantastical of George Lucas, Gene Roddenberry and Steven Spielberg to the dark and gritty tales of Stephen King and George Romero. The way from there to here has been littered with no shortage of books and movies, all of which have and continue to inform his narrative style to this day. Chad has written horror, science fiction and non-fiction. He has been published by Crystal Lake Publishing, Dark Minds Press, Shadow Work Publishing, Sirens Call Publications and EyeCue Productions and his books have received critical praise from the Ginger Nuts of Horror, Ink Heist, Confessions of a Reviewer, Horror DNA and This is Horror. For more information on his literary universe, check out his official website or take a peek at his Amazon author page