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Event Horizon (1997)

A movie directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.

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Hell is only a word. The reality is much, much worse. 94%

  • Jul 4, 2011
  • by
Before I go off reviewing this cult classic, I'll share my personal history with this movie, which dates back nearly eleven years ago.

I remember finishing up the forth grade back in June of 1998 and my brother rented Event Horizon from the local video store at the time and I watched it with him. When it was over, I was scared s***less the whole summer break. Oddly enough, I kept watching the movie throughout the summer, despite the fact that it was the most terrifying movie I've ever seen (and remains so to this day). I remember everyday from that summer, constantly fearing that a deranged Dr. Weir would break into my room and ritualistically end my existence. Even worse, I vividly remember my brother reenacting the infamous “video transmission” scene by holding golf balls covered in fake blood (to look like eyeballs) and covered himself with fake blood as he was saying “Liberate tutame ex inferis.” Summer break eventually ended and with school starting up, I was finally able to dispose any memories I had of the movie. Sam Neill advertised for MCI at the time and even though I knew it wasn't really Dr. Weir, I still freaked out at the sight of those commercials. I would stay away from this movie for about seven years. In March of 2005, me and my friends held a “movie night” at my best friend's place over the weekend and I quickly saw Event Horizon on the video store shelf and I told my friends “You want to see a really messed up movie? Watch this.” We rented Event Horizon and all of the deliciously evil and terrifying memories flooded back to my head that night; I couldn't sleep for days.


For those of you new to Event Horizon, here's the lowdown. In the year 2040, a space ship called the Event Horizon was launched to reach Proxima Centauri (Earth's nearest star) by using an artificial dimensional gateway to create a black hole, bridging the two points in space to drastically reduce journey time. When the ship goes about on its mission, it disappears without a trace. It's currently 2047 and the Event Horizon has returned off the orbit of Neptune. The Lewis and Clark rescue shuttle is dispatched to investigate and salvage the ship. As the Lewis and Clark docks with the Event Horizon and the rescue crew probes the ship, things start to go awry.


To me, this is the perfectly executed sci-fi/horror hybrid movie. Why? Event Horizon has many things going for it, but one of the best aspects is the perfect setting. Think about it; not only does the Event Horizon have a creepy gothic interior, the ship itself is surrounded by stormy conditions in space, you're stranded because your boarding ship was heavily damaged, the Event Horizon's communication functions are shot (not able to contact for help), and the only transmission you have of the ship's original crew truly sounds like screams out of hell. If you were aboard the Event Horizon, wouldn't you be scared? I sure would!!


The actors do an excellent job with their roles; particularly Lawrence Fishburne as Captain Miller, Sam Neill as Dr. Weir, Kathleen Quinlan as Lt. Peters, and Jason Isaacs as D.J. To me, Dr. Weir is one of the best and most evil villains I've ever seen in film; so much so, I had to namedrop him on my review of Morbid Angel's “Altars of Madness” to describe how evil that album is. Dr. Weir isn't some one-dimensional character that's evil and nothing else; he was originally a man of scientific ambition with his Event Horizon project but his work would cause his wife, Claire, to commit suicide from loneliness. This would haunt Weir and when he boards his long lost creation, it would mentally torment him with his sins and drive him into a state of evil madness. Even prior to Weir's transformation as the antagonist, you can tell there was something messed up about him when he's aboard the Lewis and Clark, playing an intercepted transmission from the Event Horizon with a straight face, despite it sounding so hellish. Lt. Peters and Captain Miller also have interesting back stories involving Peters having to abandon her crippled son and Miller having to abandon one of his crew members on a burning space ship several years prior. Along with Weir's sins, the Event Horizon would use the sins of Miller and Peters to torment them. Rescue tech Cooper (Richard T. Jones) does a good job at providing a little humor in the movie to keep the audience from spiraling into states of madness; I particularly like him telling X.O. Starck as he was giving crew members coffee “Want something hot and black inside you?” While this part wasn't supposed to be funny, I got a chuckle out of seeing Cooper scream as he was on top of the Lewis and Clark as it was being blown up. I also enjoyed the part where Cooper was cussing up a storm as he was clinging to a piece of the Lewis and Clark.


Unlike most horror movies that use cliché settings and scare tactics to unnerve the audience, this uses much more original ideas to scare movie fans. In Event Horizon, there's no boogeyman, no hideous aliens, and not even any physical life forms on it!! The thing that makes this movie so scary is that it perfectly utilizes the whole “fear of the unknown” concept as no one investigating the ship knows what they're dealing with. Paul Anderson's interpretation of hell is also more original, making it more unnerving. The cliché fire and brimstone imagery has been replaced with the ship's gravity drive deck filled with some of the most horrendous looking corpses ever put on film. This brings me to my next point. There's lots of gore in this movie, but unlike mediocre flicks like Hostel and The Hills Have Eyes, the gore in this movie is used to enhance the dark, unnerving atmosphere of the movie rather than relying solely on it. In other words, the violence in this movie won't bore you. The violence in this movie REALLY is disturbing; the scene where Starck and Peters unscramble the video in the ship's computer showing the original crew killing and eating each other still freaks me out to this day. The scene where Dr. Weir attacks D.J. on the medical deck is really appalling as you can see Dr. Weir's bloody, empty eye sockets and the way he kills D.J. is guaranteed to freak out movie goers. As Weir and Miller duke it out toward the end, Weir forces Miller to see Hell and trust me, it really is terrifying. While not meant to be scary, I really liked the brief moment where Miller is beating Weir with a CO2 scrubbing pipe in the ship's gateway deck.


Religion is a big theme in Event Horizon, as you can already tell with the constant mention of Hell and the use of Latin in some scenes. Something that I really enjoyed was that when D.J.'s carcass is shown in the medical deck, there's lots of esoteric occult symbols painted everywhere. I'm really glad that Anderson didn't use something typical like the pentagram and inverted cross to represent Hell, and the mysterious nature of these creepy symbols adds to the terror in this movie. These symbols would appear on Dr. Weir's body when he comes back as some sort of undead creature towards the end of the movie. Everything in Event Horizon isn't tied up in a neat little bow, there's several little things that aren't fully explained. I normally don't like it when movies do this as it usually comes off as laziness, but it works for Event Horizon because they do it in a manner that satisfies the viewer at the end of the movie but makes them wonder about other things. For one, you never really see the “chaos dimension,” only images of people getting horribly killed aboard the Event Horizon. So that leaves your imagination to decide what this dimension really looks like.


For the most part, the soundtrack is magnificent; it perfectly fuses hard techno beats with chilling classical orchestra melodies. The weird combination perfectly suits the movie. The only music track I hated was the one at the very end by The Prodigies called “Funky S***,” it sounds bad and fits nowhere in the movie, even though it was only on the credits.


The only bad thing I can say about Event Horizon was the song played at the credits, which I already stated under “soundtracks.” This is only noticeable flaw that I could find in this movie, but it doesn't really detract the quality of the film as a whole. Apparently, a lot of people panned this movie for being too violent and scary. That's mind-bogglingly stupid; panning an R-rated sci-fi/horror movie for being scary and violent is like panning The Ren and Stimpy Show or The Simpsons for making people laugh. For the people who didn't like the movie for these aspects, what were you expecting this to be? A family film about Shaqqulle O' Neal in space rapping with aliens? Do your homework next time, there's ratings and content descriptions on the movie posters and DVD cases, READ THEM!!


Event Horizon isn't a movie for everyone, but if you want a movie that will give you nightmares and weird things to discuss with fellow cinema buffs, Event Horizon will reward you greatly.

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More Event Horizon (1997 film) reviews
review by . October 30, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
EVENT HORIZON takes it title from the main charcter in the movie: a fairly large deep-space traveling craft capable of traveling past the speed of light that was meant to bring about a new-age of exploration and scientfic achievement in the year 2040. But, as the opening typed prologue informs us, something went wrong and the ship disappeared near Neptune. Seven years later the ship mysteriously reappears broadcasting an almost inaudible mysterious message containing snippets of Latin. A rescue …
review by . March 27, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
It is the year 2047 and suddenly a signal is received from a research space ship called the Event Horizon that disappeared years before. Equipped with a drive that will allow it to exceed the speed of light, it used conventional drive to get beyond the gravity well of the sun. At that point the drive was to start and jump them to Proxima Centauri, but when the drive was activated, all contact with the ship ended.    The signal being received is an automated one, so a rescue ship is sent …
review by . February 09, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
This is one of the scariest sci-fi movies that I have watched to date. It actually ranks in my top 25 for scariest movie of all time. This is a movie that holds your attention until the very end. It's kinda like Alien meets Exorcist meets Hellraiser! The sets are JUST AMAZING and the acting isn't all that bad either. Sam Neil and Larry Fishburne aren't my top actors picks but they do a believable job in this film. The special effects are FABULOUS and worth the price of the movie alone! Lots of flash …
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David Kozak ()
I'm a morbid cynic who thinks very, very differently from most other people. Chances are, if the majority says X is the greatest in its category, I'll disagree with that notion, because I tend … more
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About this movie


Drawing from Andrei Tarkovsky's heady science fiction meditationSolarisby way ofAlienandHellraiser, this visually splendid but pulpy piece of science fiction schlock concerns a mission in the year 2047 to investigate the experimental American spaceshipEvent Horizon, which disappeared seven years previously and suddenly, out of nowhere, reappeared in the orbit of Neptune. Laurence Fishburne stars as mission commander Captain Miller and Sam Neill is Dr. Weir, the scientist who designed the mystery ship. Miller's T-shirt- and army-green-clad crew of smart-talking pros finds a ship dead and deserted, but further investigations turn up blood, corpses, dismembered body parts, and a decidedly unearthly presence. It turns out that the ship is really a space-age haunted house where spooky (and obviously impossible) visions lure each of the crew members into situations they should know better than to enter. The ship is gorgeously designed, borrowing from the dark, organic look ofAlienand adding the menacing touch of teeth sprouting from bulwark doors and clawlike spikes inexplicably shooting out of the engine room floor. Unfortunately the film is not nearly as inventive as the production design--it turns into a woefully inconsistent psychic monster movie that sacrifices mood for tepid shocks--but the special effects are topnotch, and ultimately the movie has a trashy B movie charm about it.--Sean Axmaker
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Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Screen Writer: Philip Eisner
DVD Release Date: December 15, 1998
Runtime: 96 minutes
Studio: Paramount
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