Length: 96 minutes
Release Date: August 15, 1997
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Genre: Horror / Sci-Fi
Haunted house movies are a staple of the horror genre for good reason. Nobody wants to buy a house that is inhabited by spirits, particularly the evil, violent ones that usually seem to appear in these types of films. “Event Horizon” is a film that explores what would happen if the haunted house was a spaceship, with its already eerie dark halls and metal interiors. The scariest part is that unlike a family moving into a suburban haunted house, the crew of the ship has nowhere to go to escape the ghosts of the ship.
The film is set in 2047 and begins on a ship called the Lewis and Clark, led by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), who has a mission to respond to a distress signal sent out by another ship, the lost Event Horizon. The Event Horizon is a technological marvel with a gravity drive that allows it to travel long distances in seconds that was created by Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill). Due to his knowledge of the ship and its construction, Weir joins Miller’s crew so that he can try and fix the vessel and get it back to earth. He believes the ship got sucked into a black hole that the gravity drive created in order to facilitate travel at the speed of light. This theory explains why the ship hadn’t been heard from in seven years.
Miller’s crew finds and boards the Event Horizon, and strange things start to happen almost immediately. Weir begins seeing visions of his wife, who was part of the Event Horizon’s crew and is thought to be dead. Even Miller, who seems to be a very grounded and realistic person, starts seeing and feeling things that can’t possibly be real. One by one, all of the crew members begin to see people from their past, most of them dead. It doesn’t help that the Event Horizon is cold, abandoned and in the orbit of nearby Neptune, therefore subject to that planet’s stormy weather. Weir is the only one who can try and solve the mystery of the ship and what happened to its crew, but with increasingly terrifying visions of his wife haunting him, is he capable of holding on to his sanity long enough to do it?
“Event Horizon” is likely be compared to other movies set in space, such “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The two films have the same space setting, and they both definitely have mysteries that are unexplainable and hard not to get engrossed in. However, the truth is that “Event Horizon” is more reminiscent of “Solaris,” a 1972 film that was remade 30 years later with George Clooney in the lead part. “Event Horizon” and “Solaris” center on a troubled man who lost his wife and may be losing his mind as well on a space ship that almost seems to be alive. The difference is that “Event Horizon” is more of a horror movie with all the requisite jumps and chills, whereas both versions of “Solaris” are content with focusing on drama, and in the case of the 2002 remake, romance. There is no romance in “Event Horizon,” and drama is placed on the backburner in favor of mystery and classic sci-fi thrills. That’s why the comparisons aren’t completely fair, though they are inevitable all the same.
Prior to directing “Event Horizon,” Paul W.S. Anderson had previously made “Mortal Kombat,” a visually fun adaptation of the famous video game franchise. It’s no surprise then that he has given “Event Horizon” a bit of eye candy to contrast the horror of what’s happening to the Lewis and Clark crew. The ship is stark and feels cold and uninviting, as if the vessel was a host trying to kick its guests out through any means necessary. Anderson uses light and shadows to his advantage, upping the creep factor even further. It’s not surprising that Anderson went on to direct the “Resident Evil” franchise, which has certain elements that have become Anderson’s signature, some of which started with “Event Horizon.”
“Event Horizon” was released in 1997 and took full advantage of the advances in computer-generated technology that were available at the time. Even by today’s loftier standards, “Event Horizon” is still full of beautiful special effects that thankfully don’t take away from the central mystery at hand. A lot is left open for interpretation, and just when the audience thinks they understand, something happens to change all the rules. This makes for a fun, cerebral mystery.
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