Classic Review – Event Horizon (1997)

On-board the Event Horizon, it's best to avoid walking

On-board the Event Horizon, it’s best to avoid walking towards the light

Event Horizon

Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson

Starring Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Jason Isaacs, Sean Pertwee

Review by Jordan

warning: possible spoilers lay ahead

An ominous and potent melding of the artistry present in the Notre Dame Cathedral, nightmare excerpts forged by H. R. Giger (most notably his eternally iconic creations in the Alien series) and gliding behemoths traversing through space in Kubrick’s 2001 a Space Odyssey (1068), the spaceship Event Horizon boasts an impressive presence, standing suspiciously still and undamaged in the orbit of Neptune, hiding terribly dark secrets within.

A rescue crew responding to distressed calls for help, led by the no-nonsense, slightly damaged yet heroic Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) and accompanied by the evasive outsider and the vessels creator Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) approach this ship with trepidation 7 years after it’s maiden voyage has ended in disaster, unsure of exactly where it has been and what has become of it’s populous. Is anyone left alive? How much does Weir really know? What exactly is the Gravity Drive and where has the Event Horizon been?

The answer to this last question in particular is the reason Paul W. S. Anderson’s film has risen over time from critically condemned science-fiction thriller to highly regarded (among a minority) cult horror classic. You see, the Event Horizon has literately been to Hell and back, and as Dr. Weir so broodingly states: “Hell is only a word. The reality is much, much worse.”

I created the Event Horizon to reach the stars, but she’s gone much, much farther than that. She tore a hole in our universe, a gateway to another dimension. A dimension of pure chaos. Pure… evil. When she crossed over, she was just a ship. But when she came back… she was alive! Look at her, Miller. Isn’t she beautiful?

Initially suspenseful and successful in establishing an environment so difficult to imagine, before accelerating it’s pace and presenting a cacophony of gore-strewn imagery, horrific acts of violence and suitably dreadful plot twists, Event Horizon still may not be the next Alien (1979) or the The Shining (1980) as re-imagined by Marilyn Manson as was perhaps the intention, but is a downright terrifying experience for those willing to suspend disbelief for the sake of entertainment and with the Gravity Drive especially boasts numerous outstanding sets. The cast too go a long way to making this the memorable voyage it is, with A-listers Fishburne and Neill striving to bring a touch of gravitas to their one-note roles and B-grade professionals Kathleen Quinlan (The Doors, Oscar nominated for Apollo 13) and Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers, Wilderness) grounding proceedings and offering moments of both pathos and grin-inspiring toughness.

One of the scariest movies of the ’90’s, though you still won’t hear most established journalists admit to it, Event Horizon is a trip to some extremely dark recesses that never crosses the point of no return but rather teases with the audience’s limits. It’s bleak yet exciting and downright brilliant, and worthy of space in your collection.

4.5 zero-gravity fires out of 5

42 responses to “Classic Review – Event Horizon (1997)

  1. I didn’t like it as much as you did, but I do love the reappearing-craft-from-Earth-mystery storyline. Event Horizon did a better job than Sphere, but I hope the idea will be revisited again in future, there’s a lot of potential for a really great sci-fi film and even a franchise of them.

  2. I like this more as a thriller than for gore horror. I would have liked to have seen more of the science fiction explored, but still, it’s an unappreciated gem. Nice write-up.

    • Same! I remember showing it to my sisters and friends after I first watched it just to see if it really was as scary as I found it.. I realised pretty soon that the answer was yes,

  3. I’ve always thought the concept was brilliant (The Shining in space) and in better hands this could have been amazing. I find it pretty bland and flat to be honest.

  4. Was so freaked out by this film when I saw it as a teenager. It’s so bleak.

    Films come and go but this one never leaves your memory!

  5. I remember renting this from ‘Blockbuster’ and loving it so much, the day I returned it, I purchased the used VHS they had available. Several years later I purchased the DVD, which has a nice ‘making of…’ featurette.

  6. This movie scared the living shit out of me. I sat up in bed all night after watching it and although that was 15 years ago I’m still not sure I’m up for watching it again.

  7. Pingback: Film Review – Infini (2015) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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