I’ve looked at the concept of horror in space before when I reviewed Alien but while there are some similarities between it and last night’s film, there are many more differences that set Event Horizon into a league of its own in terms of horror.
Set in the way off distant future of 2047, Event Horizon (1997) follows the crew of the search and rescue vessel Lewis & Clark as they set off to Neptune to investigate a distress signal that has been detected. With the regular crew of hard chaws is the reserved and academic (nerdy) scientist Dr. William Weir who explains that the distress signal is coming from the research ship the Event Horizon, that was lost some seven years earlier. The Event Horizon was a cutting edge ship that featured a new type of propulsion system that could travel faster than light. The ship disappeared during her maiden voyage and hadn’t been heard from until her signal mysteriously appeared.
The ship is caught in the stormy upper atmosphere of Neptune and the Lewis & Clark crew have a tough time just getting to her. When they do get aboard they find the ship in a state of deep cold with no sign of her crew, despite the unusual life signs they get on their scanners. While exploring the ship one of the rescue team, Justin, is sucked into the core of the gravity drive that powers the ship. The core spits Justin out and sends out a pulse of gravity that badly damages the Lewis &Clark. As repairs get underway the investigation into what happened to the Event Horizon and her crew reveals some shocking details of how the ship works and where it may have been, or worse – what it may have brought back with her…
There is no doubt that even with the space ships and Neptune and faster than light travel and all that, Event Horizon is a horror film. There’s blood and gore, references to Hell, a couple of creepy characters, more gore, and even some Latin thrown in for good measure. As with any good scary movie the key to Event Horizon is the atmosphere, in both a metaphorical and literal sense; the ship itself providing a great setting for the horrific events to unfold in, and the upper parts of the planet Neptune providing more lightning and storm effects then even the cheesiest Frankenstein flick. The movie tips it’s hat to Alien as well – the scene where the crew are fetching the CO2 filters is almost an exact copy of a scene from Alien – which is a good move considering that comparisons are always going to be made between the two.
The performances in Even Horizon are spot on as well. The script calls for a level of hamming it up that the cast all seem willing to do and they’re all willing to laugh at themselves as they go along, the scene where the crew is introduced is the best example of this – just watch for DJ offering his job title “Trauma” and the resulting laugh the rest of the crew have at his expense – it smacks of an improve scene that made it into the film.
The script is the weakness of the film and there are too many lines that are quotable for the wrong reasons. At one point Miller (Laurence Fishburne) asks if a fellow crewmate has ever witnessed a fire in zero gravity – when Event Horizon first hit the cinemas myself and a chum of mine used to wile away the hours substituting different materials for fire, including snot, pee, and my personal favourite:
“Have you ever seen diarrhoea in zero gravity? It’s beautiful. It’s like liquid it… slides all over everything. Comes up in waves. And they just kept hitting him, wave after wave. He was screaming for me to save him.”
Two Thumbs Up for Event Horizon