FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE...beware yon spoilers!

Oct 3, 2007

Day 3- "This place is a tomb."

Those who have seen Paul WS Anderson's sci-fi/horror thriller Event Horizon (1997) seem to be either lovahs or hatas- I've never met anyone who feels merely ambivalent about it. Clearly, I'm a lovah and I don't understand why the people who dislike this film seem to have a major hate-on for it. Could it be because Event Horizon doesn't make much sense?

Bah! Sense, shmensh, I say. This movie is nothing more than a haunted house film set in space, and I think it should be treated as such, despite all the scientific, astrophysics-flavored mumbo-jumbo.

In the year 2040, the deep space research vessel Event Horizon vanished whilst doing its thing out beyond Neptune. Seven years later, she reappears and a rescue ship, the Lewis & Clark, is sent to investigate. The crew arrives to find little more than a ghost ship. As they attempt to figure out what exactly happened on board the Event Horizon, the Lewis & Clark crew are subjected to horrifying visions that play on their darkest fears and deepest secrets.

Dr Weir (Sam Neill), the scientist who designed the Event Horizon, explains that he invented a gravity drive that will bend the space-time continuum, allowing the ship to jump through a dimensional gateway, traveling anywhere in the known universe- and beyond!- seemingly faster than the speed of light. Or something like that. Like I said, sense, shmense! Just sit back, say to yourself "Oh, so the Event Horizon entered a black hole, traveled through Hell, and came back sort of alive and mean! Neat...and spooky!", and enjoy the ride. The ship fucks with people's heads, Dr Weir flips out, people die, there's blood, there's big explosions, there's some genuine scares, the end. Don't get all hung up on the deets and you'll do fine.

The crew members are the standard stock "crew members" you've seen in every movie where there's...a crew: the no-nonsense commander who won't leave a man behind, the cuckoo visionary scientist, the eager young go-getter, the wisecracking jokester, the tough working man who's there only for the paycheck. Though the speech does fall into the realm of corny action-flick dialogue, the caliber of the actors involved- Neill, Laurence Fishburne, Joely Richardson, and Sean Pertwee among others- save it from becoming completely laughable. I'll admit, the film does fall victim to dreaded "unfunny comic relief" sequences from time to time, but what works in Event Horizon really works, so I feel forgiving towards it.

So what really works? Well, this is one scary flick. Anderson frames scenes tightly, creating an oppressive, claustrophobic atmosphere, and he's not afraid to use darkness for maximum effect. Lights are constantly extinguished, leaving characters stranded with a headlamp or a flashlight- if they're lucky. Make things dark, let us know there are things- eeeevil things- lurking in the dark, and we'll be scared, I promise. Additionally, the audio and video logs left behind by the Event Horizon's long-dead crew are downright disturbing. They're mere glimpses of gory madness, but that's enough to tell you what kind of fate awaits the crew from the Lewis & Clark- and it ain't pretty.

Obviously, Event Horizon has its faults- numerous faults. Just keep telling yourself: it's only a movie...it's only a movie...and so I won't get hung up on things like "logistics" and "plot holes"...I'll just turn off the lights, turn off my brain, and git skeered. In space, no one can hear your complaints!

19 comments:

Jason Meek said...

I'm not the biggest Paul WS Anderson fan in the world, and I think he is mediocre at best, but Event Horizon is certainly his best, most professional movie. I remember wanting to see this when it came out because it was done by the same guy who directed Mortal Kombat (I was young and stupid so cut me some slack). So, now I like this movie as a guilty pleasure (along with Soldier).

JTS said...

I snuck into this movie a couple years before I was able to go see horror movies by myself, and it scared the hell out of me. I haven't watched it in a couple of years, but it still holds a place in my top ten favorite horror films.

I would also blame Event Horizon for ruining Sunshine for me. I went to check Boyle's film out a couple of months back, and while it was probably the more visually exciting film, it didn't really tread on any new ground outside all the stuff about the sun. In the end, EH wasn't only first, it was just scarier.

Stacie Ponder said...

I totally agree with you, Jason...I don't think Anderson is really a spectacular director, and EH is his best effort. I do have a soft spot for Resident Evil, though.

aBearAware said...

Oh yes, Event Horizon has some good scares, and some truly nasty bits. It is a shame the director felt it necessary to include the "wacky black guy", and there are huge plot holes and contrivances, and there's never a clear consensus on whether the ship is alive, possessed, or both, and, and, and...

But there's so much to love. The ship is just so damn cool, and even if you hate the movie, you must admit that the anti-gravity time-warp big-spinny-thing-drive is nothing short of awesome. You must, the power of Satan compels you. (Although why it was architecturally necessary to put big pointy spikes all over the walls and floor of the engine room is debatable.)

The film also has what I think is the most realistic decompression scene of any outer space movie, and it's very upsetting. And Sam Neill does cuckoo nutso like nobody's business. "Where we're going, we won't need eyes to see..." (shudder)

My only serious complaint with Event Horizon is the way one of the characters is dispatched on the aforementioned spikes. I won't say who -- and given the presence of the spikes in act 1, you know they're gonna "go off" in act 3, so this isn't a spoiler -- but I was disappointed because they seemed far too intelligent a crew member to die that way.

Nonetheless, I love this crazy movie. Liberate tutame ex inferis, y'all.

Ed Hardy, Jr. said...

My only problem with recommending this movie is that, for me, the experience of watching it was so tied to the theater environment. The sound design was so immense and just plain freaking loud that even the mechanical whoosh of the doors sliding open was enough to make you jump during the first act--and then things got really f'd up. People talked about how loud TRANSFORMERS was this summer, but my ultra-loud theater-going memory will always be EVENT HORIZON.

ARBOGAST said...

even if you hate the movie, you must admit that the anti-gravity time-warp big-spinny-thing-drive is nothing short of awesome

Not literally true, but point taken.

Amanda By Night said...

I think the premise is really interesting, but when it came down to the nitty gritty, it just wasn't scary for me. Nor did I find it very engaging.

However, it's miles ahead of Supernova, so there's always that.

Btw, if I see a fucking kid running somewhere scarily again, I just may blow up planet earth.

Micah said...

Yeah... Event Horizon tweaked my buttons in just the right way... very unsettling stuff. As is In the Mouth of Madness, my favorite "Sam Neill does cuckoo nutso" film.

JA said...

I love Resident Evil, too, Stacie; feel no shame! Or at least don't feel lonely. We can be ashamed together.

Haven't seen EH in years, since it came out I think, but I just got a copy a couple weeks ago and have been meaning to fire it up anew.

melizer said...

I had just remembered Event Horizon recently, when thinking of movies I might post on the "Movies that scared you" thread in the forum.

It's been a long time but I recall that me & my brother had fun freezing the so-called "Visions of Hell" frames that were only flashed briefly. IMDB says that 20 minutes were cut to get an R rating (gosh-darn MPAA!) and Anderson changed the ending twice to please test audiences. I think that sucks.

The Resident Evil movies are fun, but Event Horizon was scary. This is what I want from a scary movie, to be disturbed for days (if not years) afterward.

I don't remember being bothered by plot holes, so maybe I should watch this again! Or maybe I shouldn't!

Andrew said...

I haven't seen this one in years, but since Sam Neill was in "In the Mouth of Madness," I had to see it. I remember it being very original and genuinely spooky.

I seem to remember some chick on board freaking out and imagining her son was suddenly on board and that really pissed me off.

Stacie, I think there's a direct correlation between how good a movie is and how little sense it makes.

Anyone see "Sunshine" this year? I remember thinking it was quite similar to Event Horizon. I thought it was pretty pretentious.

Andrew said...

Just to be clear, I meant that I thought "Sunshine" was pretentious, not Event Horizon.

Repoman said...

"Supernova".......now there are 90 minutes of my life I won't be proud of.


I think the things that go right in EH have little to do with Paul WS Anderson. What worked in EH had more to do with a decent script idea and quality actors reaching above the material. I can think of him only as some horrible hack who couldn't direct his himself out of a wet paper bag. I feel I can say this because I sat through Soldier and AVP, another 180 minutes of my life gone...

Anonymous said...

EH is derided because there's SO MUCH good stuff in the movie that's totally wasted... if as much attention had been paid to the script as the production design, it would have definitely changed career paths.

As it stands now, it's a beautiful, glittering turd.

ARBOGAST said...

EH is derided because there's SO MUCH good stuff in the movie that's totally wasted... if as much attention had been paid to the script as the production design, it would have definitely changed career paths.

As Celine Dion would say... "Word!"

EVENT HORIZON is one of those "and then this happens... and then this happens..." type of movies that leapfrogs from, well, from event to event until it's over. You don't watch watch the movie so much as sit it out. And then you think, "Well, that happened."

Jason Jeffery said...

Sci/Fi Horror films are rarely good. Usually, campy, cheesy, and saturated in terrible dialogue. Event Horizon took all the elements that make a good Horror flik and shot it into space. It worked for me, especially when all I have to entice my Sci/Fi Horror appettite are movies like Ghosts of Mars, Jason X, and Deepstar Six (RETCH)!!

Jason

Rashad said...

Has anyone seen Dead tone Yet?? The film is crazy. On some old school horror shit but up to date

talkmyshitagain said...

Put me in the "love" category.

I can still remember the ride home after seeing this with my dad when I was 11 about how, if hell is real, it will likely be unimaginably worse than the admittedly horrifying view we get of it from this film.

I would have loved to see the even more explicit version Anderson filmed but sadly the footage is rumored to have been destroyed.

dementia13 said...

Huh, cool- "Driller Killer" on the iPhone, on one of the TVU channels. Anyway, if there really were 20 minutes cut out of EH, that's 20 minutes worth of potentially-sense-making material. There's no underestimating how much effect cuts like that can have on a movie. The biggest criticism I've seen of this (other than that it's too stomach-turning for mainstream critics) is that it's "Hellraiser in space". To which I say, "So what?" Nothing's original, it's all in the execution. And to me, the execution here works- not necessarily in terms of technical details like plot exposition and all that, but in the horror film bottom line of it being tense and scary. Good stuff. Mark me down for the "lovah" column.