Those of you who’ve been reading long enough (Thanks!) know of my fear of Pinhead. I was fourteen when Event Horizon came out and looked forward to renting it because I love scary movies in space. They’re like haunted-house movies only the stakes are higher since you can’t exactly leave without undergoing explosive decompression.
My Science Killjoy Self says that the idea of exploding when ejected into space is actually just a myth. Human skin can handle a drop of one atmosphere in pressure and the most likely cause of death is actually going to be lung trauma or hypoxia (Lack of oxygen to critical cells.)
You know what? Outer space still scares me. So Event Horizon terrified me. In retrospect, they don’t have a lot in common, but Dr. Weir’s transformation reminded me of Pinhead. So, this movie scared me a lot. Watching it again, fourteen years later, I’m actually impressed that it mostly holds up to the test of time. I can’t understand why it didn’t do better.
In 2040, the ship the Event Horizon disappears while on a mission to Proxima Centauri. The ship used an advanced gravity drive to bend space-time and create a mini-blackhole. Seven years later, the Event Horizon is back from who know where in the universe. Where was it and what was it doing? In the hood and doing hoodrat stuff, says my roommate, who I tricked into watching the movie, and I’m inclined to agree. The Lewis and Clark responds to the rescue beacon and brings Dr. Weir (Sam Neill), the designer of the Event Horizon. He is a man haunted by a dark past.
Frankly, I think that the fact that Sam Neill was in it was part of what scared me. Jurassic Park was the first movie I saw in theaters that didn’t feature animated mice singing, so I just figured he’d be the good guy in Event Horizon. I watched it and my reaction was quite close to, “Oh look, it’s Dr. Grant, he’ll save them all. Dr. Grant, what are you doing?!?! NOOOO!!!” Plus, he was Molloy the Cat Burglar on The Simpsons. So, you know, happy childhood memories collided with horror.
Anyway, the crew enters the ship and finds that it’s frozen and covered in gore. As they try to solve the mystery of what the hell happened, they’re all plagued by visions of what they fear and are ashamed about. The captain, Miller (Laurence Fishburne), sees a crew member that he left behind.
Medical tech Peters (Kathleen Quinn) sees her son with lesions all over his leg. And Dr. Weir sees his wife, who killed herself, asking him to join her.
It turns out that the ship went to a dimension of “pure chaos and evil” and is now a living entity with a lust for blood. Dr. Weir is seduced by the evil living in the ship and slowly turns into Pinhead’s cousin from a better neighborhood. You know, he went to private school and presents himself better than Pinhead and his parents bought him a car, but you know he’s into all kinds of drugs ‘n trouble.
The movie isn’t perfect, ok. The opening half-hour suffers from a severe onslaught of banter between the crew who are suffering from a major case of Not What I Signed Up For. The cast is what really saves the film from being annoying. Aside from Sam Neill, Laurence Fishburne, and Kathleen Quinn, the movie also features Joely Richardson and, in a surprise to me, Jason Isaacs as a twitchy trauma doctor. Jason Isaacs is one of my favorite actors, although it was a strange reversal seeing him be the good guy and Sam Neill be the bad guy.
What I really like about the movie were the visuals. According to my copy of Fangoria: 101 Best Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen, the design of the Event Horizon was based on the Notre Dame cathedral. Somehow, the ship manages to be huge and imposing but also cramped and terrifying. I think the terrifying part might be because of the gore caked on the walls and the frozen corpse-icle.
That’s the Event Horizon, I like how it looks almost like a giant angler-fish coming to eat the viewer. Here are some more cool shots.
That’s Jason Isaacs’ character. His death reminds me a bit of the cop’s death in The Silence of the Lambs.
Frankly, the whole ship looks like it’s designed to murder you creatively. The movie is moderately gory and pretty scary. Sadly, I heard from the special edition DVD commentary that the original was 130 minutes before the visual effects were added, but gorier than the version we get to see. Paramount ordered that the movie be cut by thirty minutes and some of the gore be removed. Apparently, the original video no longer exists. That makes me sad.
For me, the creepiest part is probably the ship’s log. It’s garbled enough to look really weird and bloody enough to look painful. I just wish that it had been a little more garbled so you could understand less of it.
So, while the movie isn’t perfect it’s definitely scary and I think it manages to distinguish itself from the space-horror genre, specifically from the Alien series. Uhm, the only other space-horror movies I can think of are Jason X and Leprechaun 4: In Space. Still, Joely Richardson’s character makes a cool final girl and it’s nice that the black guy, Cooper, played by Richard T. Jones, survives through the end.