It’s 2047 and we’re back out in space. Receiving a distress signal from the Event Horizon which disappeared seven years previously, Laurence Fishburne and his crew are sent out to investigate. However, as they draw near, the ships’ designer (an excellent Sam Neill) reveals the true nature of the Event Horizon’s secret construction. With the ability to create an artificial black hole to jump across the universe, there’s no telling where she’s been or more importantly what she’s brought back with her…
… an ugly duckling of a horror movie that has subsequently blossomed into a full-blown cult classic.
Seen in hindsight, director Paul W. S. Anderson’s Event Horizon is an ugly duckling of a horror movie that has subsequently blossomed into a full-blown cult classic. In sporting painful inspirations that were, at the time, far too obvious to see, this sci-fi mash-up of Ridley’s Scott’s Alien and Clive Barker’s Hellraiser has since managed to cultivate an affection all of its own – and there are many reasons why.
First, up is the look. In what is essentially a haunted house piece albeit lost in space, the initial appearance of the Event Horizon was clearly crucial. Whereas Ridley Scott’s Alien was infused by H.R. Giger’s sense of aesthetics, Event Horizon embraces gothic mediaevalism. From its dead preying mantis-like exterior to its angular arches and sharp edges on the inside, nothing here is healthy or safe. And then you also have the way it is photographed, which is down to ace cinematographer Adrian Biddle who worked on both Alien and Blade Runner no less. Nuff sed.
Secondly, take a serious look at its cast. In another one of those movies-before-they-were-famous, Event Horizon has an ensemble to die for. Check pre-Matrix, Laurence Fishburne as the ‘steady-pair-of-hands’ ships captain, Jason Isaacs as the cooly detached Ian Holm-like medic or the woefully underused Sean Pertwee as a blue-collar pilot. However, who is really filling up the room with dread is Omen III‘s Sam Neil as the original designer of the Event Horizon. So, whilst it follows the squabbling-crew-in-space template, Event Horizon‘s cast believes it so you do too. Whether it’s Sam Neil waking nightmares owing too much to Tarkovsky‘s Solaris or Joely Richardson‘s Lt Starck possibly being a “Ripley” hiding in plain sight, Sean Pertwee’s “Smitty” is actually the one who calls every bad decision right and deserves props for doing so. Add to this Mark Isham’s score sounding wonderful on 5.1 surround speakers and everything points to a film that was clearly invested with a lot of love and care.
What is also worth noting is Event Horizon‘s place in the expanding spiral that is science fiction film history. For whilst it definitely borrowed from Hellraiser – check the ship’s engine, much of the final act and not to mention several quotable pieces of dialogue, Event Horizon has actually given more than it’s borrowed. -Don’t believe me? See Danny Boyle’s far superior movie Sunshine and then compare. The influential DNA strands are all there to see but similar to Event Horizon, Sunshine also manages to set itself apart by again having its own sense of style and another stellar crew. So seen, in this context, it’s not hard to understand why Event Horizon has become another revered genre classic rediscovered on video.
However thereby, by hangs two unfortunate stings in this mythic tale. 1) Yes, there was a director’s cut but sadly, the extra 45 minutes of footage that would’ve allowed a reissue has long since deteriorated in a Transylvanian salt mine (A salt mine in Transylvania? -Really?), And 2) Yes, you can get a 4K rescanned negative Bluray edition. The picture looks great, there are tons of added features but… only if you live in North America – because that’s the only regional license that the distributors paid for. Hmm. That sucks.
So, whether you’re waiting for the TV series reboot/reimagining from Paramount TV and Amazon Studios, I’d still say it’s worth tracking down a Bluray of the original Event Horizon especially if you haven’t seen it yet.
Event Horizon does have such sights to show you but contrary to what Sam Neill says, you will need eyes for where it’s going.