Event Horizon is a science fiction horror film that is like a meeting of Hellraiser and Alien, albeit without the creativity or thrills. You might assume that with its truly stellar cast, the film can’t be that bad. Don’t.
The title refers to the name of an exploratory spaceship. In 2040, in the orbit of Neptune, the Event Horizon engaged an experimental faster-than-light drive and promptly disappeared. Seven years later, it has returned, and a recovery ship is sent to discover what happened.
The rescue team is headed by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne). His skilled team includes such skilled actors as Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richarson, Richard T. Jones and Jack Noseworthy. Also along for the ride is the mysterious Dr. Weir (Sam Neill), the scientist who developed the experimental drive, and who seems to have questionable motives.
When the team first arrives at the ship, they detect lifesigns throughout, but can find no one alive. However, soon the entire crew begin to experience visions that may-or-may not be real. It seems that whatever evil place the Event Horizon went to in its seven year absence, it brought something back. Something nasty.
Absolutely no thought was put into this film. What wasn’t borrowed was cribbed from the standard horror film cliches. Plenty of previously smart people make idiotically stupid decisions, but perhaps they’re just mirroring the script. Anything can happen, and nothing makes much sense. Things happen merely to allow the film to hop from cliche to cliche.
Those elements of the film’s look that haven’t been borrowed from Alien seem to have been chosen for their death-dealing potential rather than functionality. I mean, how many engine rooms have you seen decorated with man-sized razor sharp spikes that serve no functional purpose? Or what about a transit tunnel filled with more razor-sharp rotating blades?
The extensive CGI effects of the film are more cartoonish than realistic. About the only item in the film’s plus column are a few vertigo inspiring shots. An opening shot involving a space station is particularly gut twisting. It deserved a better movie. The rest of the CGI effects are more noticiable for looking fake than for inspiring awe. The zero-G effects aboard the Event Horizon are particularly unrealistic. It seemed more like an attempt to cram as many floating items on the screen at on time.
The film subscribes to the “since we can’t scare them, at least we’ll disgust them” school of gore that popped up in the early 80s. Used properly, gore can enhance the shock value of certain thrill scenes. However, that assumes that there is some thrill value to the scenes to begin with.
The actors in Event Horizon skim through on underwritten roles. No one really has a distinct personality, only a particular generic quirk to be exploited by the evil in the ship. You don’t care who lives or who dies, since everyone’s interchangable.
As a horror film that’s more boring than thrilling, Event Horizon’s throbbing soundtrack is probably the only thing that’ll keep you awake. Not that you’d want to stay awake during this one.