Synopsis: A rescue crew investigates a spaceship that disappeared into a black hole and has now returned…with someone or something new on-board.
I must have seen Event Horizon 5 or 6 times. Yet it is a good 10 years since the last viewing and, on discovering my wife had never seen it, I thought the Halloween countdown was as good a time as any to get reacquainted for what was one of my favourite sci-fi horrors growing up (I was on 13 when it came out). I was particularly keen to see it for the first time since multiple viewings of Danny Boyle’s beautiful, if somewhat hollow, Sunshine. A film which rightfully draws comparisons to Event Horizon, even if Sunshine is the superior film in terms of direction and production.
First off the opening sequence was a stark reminder that this film is now 16 years old, when it optimistically predicted that we would have colonised the moon 18 months from now! In a weird nosferatu moment though I am fairly certain I saw an iPad floating down a corridor. Viewing it so many years on the effects hold up to a point, but we are spoiled now with high end graphics in the most ridiculous places that films from the late 90’s, and even early 00’s, are going to struggle to look anything but dated.
As an aside there was a moment that reminded me of something I love in sci-fi movies from every era; that when designing future tech we somehow always assume it looks similar to the tech we are using at the time. In the 1950’s astronauts in the 1990’s (that strange and distant time…) would still be using spool tapes, valves and analogue radio. In Event Horizon apparently our intrepid explorers will have found a way to bend space and time but still use CD’s to record the crew logs. It’s a strangely myopic aspect of prop design.
Narratively I forgot that Event Horizon is kind of dumb, and if you think too hard about it the whole premise falls down a little. Yet it remains, for nostalgic reasons probably above all others, entertaining and has the requisite amount of jumps even though I know what is coming. I forgot it is slow to get started and the characters are drawn straight out of Sci-fi Spaceship Crews For Dummies. Same Neill is great as the always suspicious, whether he means to be or not, Dr Weir. Laurence Fishburne monotones it from start to finish and the rest of the cast fulfill their duties as angry British Capt’, angry Irish Dr, smooth talking buff guy, other guy who is evidently the token Red Shirt etc. But when the second act starts to gain momentum, and the red stuff flows a little more freely, it finds a rhythm that carries through.
Admittedly I would watch Sunshine now over Event Horizon given the choice, and certainly as a more seasoned filmgoer than I was 10-15 years ago I can see it’s flaws a little more clearly. But Event Horizon is still a great, late night, schlocky B-movie sci-fi horror to get you on edge. It also is the high point of Paul W S Anderson’s career, a man who has made a startling amount of box office money churning out B-movie horrors.
Conclusion: It has aged better than it could have, and nostalgia probably plays a part in why I still find it scary and entertaining after all this time. But if you want to see the same thing done with a beautiful score and superior cast go watch Danny Boyle’s Sunshine.
Cast: Sam Neill, Laurence Fishburne, Jason Issacs, Sean Pertwee, Kathleen Quinlan, Jack Noseworthy, Joley Richardson, Richard T. Jones