So we know there are lots of subgenres that fall under the “horror” umbrella. One of my favorites has always been Sci-Fi horror movies. Some of the best horror movies out there fall under this category, The Thing, Alien, Scanners and of course, Jason X (wait, what?). Maybe it’s because the source of the horror is anchored to reality by some kind of science, or maybe they just remind me of Star Trek. A lot of these movies are not really that scary- they may play up the Sci-Fi angle and downplay the horror. Paul Anderson’s 1997 Event Horizon, does a good job bridging the gap between sci-fi and conventional horror.
The film opens with us learning that a spaceship, called the Event Horizon, disappeared on its maiden voyage and has been lost for years. We’re in the mid-21st century, and we soon find out that Sam Neill (Dr. Weir) built this ship that can “fold space” to travel incredible distances instantaneously. We’ll just give them the benefit of the doubt on the explanation. A distress signal is received from what appears to be the missing ship so Laurence Fishburne, and his crew, along with Dr. Weir travel out to see what’s up.
When they get to the deserted ship, it’s not a pretty site. The crew is missing, but we see blood and body parts floating around in zero gravity. During the search and rescue mission, The “Gravity Drive” which allows the Event Horizon to travel faster than light speed, activates itself and damages the other ship. Now we’re stranded on this derelict ship and shit is getting worse. The crew starts having seriously fucked up hallucinations and acting crazy. Eyeballs sliced out. Self-mutilation. Blood spraying everywhere. Bodies on fire. Dead friends coming back to visit, that kind of thing. Then in an all-too-Bond-villain-esque explication monologue, Sam Neil goes all mad scientist tells us that the ship has actually traveled to Hell and brought back something purely evil that intends to cause death and dismemberment to anyone it comes in contact with.
It’s interesting to see how filmmakers interpret the future even just a few years ago. In the 90’s the future always looked sort of accidentally steam-punk. Rusty panels and exposed wires, even steam pumping out of vents everywhere. And everyone wears leather bomber jackets with patches on them like Top Gun in their 2048 space ships. The interior of the spaceship and the rapport between the crew is very ripped off from Alien. I kept waiting for someone to start puking up rice pudding and trying to kill the crew.
Overall, the film had a great set-up. Spaceships, black holes, bombs, demons, intestines- everything your twisted little heard desires. The story is fairly original and clever too. I like how they merged sci-fi and conventional, semi-religious horror and made it work. It’s almost like Alien meets The Shining meets The Exorcist. It’s one of the films that I remember from childhood that scared the shit out of me. The scares are overwhelmingly visual, which to me is less scary, but it’s hard to come up with better nightmare fuel than some of the stuff they showed.
- Is it scary? 6 – The suspenseful sequences are fairly predictable and flat but the visuals are downright disturbing. (If it gives you any context, I had to hold back and use some more tame pictures for this blog- it gets a good deal worse than I’m showing you.)
- Originality: 7 – The plot is fairly formulaic once you get past the initial set-up, but the boiled-down version feels pretty unique.
- Blood: 8 – Buckets of blood and guts floating through space.
- Believability: 5 – The cast does a pretty good job acting. I thought Weir’s turn from magnanimous to mad scientist was a little abrupt though, even if he was pushed in that direction by the devil.
- Setting/Cinematography: 7 – The ship itself was pretty epic and they did a great job with CGI and space. There were some amazing shots zooming through space station architecture.
Final Score: 33/50