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Movie Review: "Event Horizon" (1997)

Updated on January 20, 2012

DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers.

Before it was released, "Event Horizon" was being marketed as "The Shining" in space. That sounds pretty cool, right? It's too bad they let Paul Anderson take the helm. Before filming this movie, either he was actually watching "The Shining" or playing "Resident Evil" on his Playstation. I'm leaning more towards the latter.

It's the mid-21st century. Event Horizon is the name of a spaceship that can fold space and time, making it possible for it to jump from one end of the universe to another. During its first jump, the ship and its crew disappear without a trace. Seven years go by and the ship returns without its crew, or rather, what's left of them. Enter Dr. Weir (Sam Neil), Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), and a team of space truckers who are sent to investigate what happened.

It's a very original idea. It's kind of like the story of the Mary Celeste but set in space, mixed with bits of "Hellraiser", "The Shining", and... unfortunately, "Resident Evil" (even though the movie didn't come out until five years later, you could still pick up on Anderson's cues here and there).

Space Truckers... Again?

One of the main detractors from "Event Horizon" are the characters themselves, mostly Captain Miller and his crew, they're all modeled after typical space trucker types that we've seen in "Alien" and the many clones of it that followed afterwards. They're cocky, horny, they have bad smoking habits, whine and moan about job-related conditions, and they like to curse a lot.

Basically, just take your stereotypical run-of-the-mill factory worker (make sure he's part of a union too) and throw him on a spaceship. Boom, there's your character. Sorry, but it just doesn't fit in a movie like "Event Horizon", these characters are part of the reason why it's not as scary as it should be. They should have went with a different set of characters who are not so cocky.

It also doesn't help that these people are never really in any state of awe at their surroundings. I mean there's some wonderful sights to behold in "Event Horizon". I guess 'space truckers' don't really care though. Oh and now that we're on the topic, what the heck is up with Laurence Fishburne? I thought "The Matrix" didn't come out until two years after this? If that's the case, why is he acting like a precursor to Morpheus here? Where's his emotion?

You might as well call this 'Robocop in Space'. Seriously though, I don't understand this guy, is this the farthest his acting range can go? Even in "Akeelah and the Bee", a damn children's movie for Christ's sake, he's acting like Morpheus ("Yes, my young apprentice Akeelah, you shall win the spelling test... if you take the blue pill, that is"). I haven't seen this guy do a role that's actually 'different' since "King of New York".

One of the creepiest sets in the movie.
One of the creepiest sets in the movie. | Source

Space Horror No-No's

There's only a few genuinely scary moments in "Event Horizon"...

  • Just about every scene involving Dr. Weir's ghostly wife with no eyes, including the opening.
  • The scene with Dr. Weir in the green shaft, attempting to fix the ship's core.
  • And last but not least... Laurence Fishburne and Jason Isaacs analyzing the audio recording later in the film.

Everything else is pure garbage.

Many of the moments that are supposed to be creepy in "Event Horizon" are simply overdone in execution. The soundtrack, for starters, gives a lot of the scares away in its cues (what else is new with 98% of horror movies?). The film also shows us a lot of what should be left up to our imagination -- For instance, early in the film, we hear the voice recording of the crew's last log before the ship disappeared; then later on, we get to see the actual video of that same recording. Big no-no!

Why couldn't Paul Anderson just research the Mary Celeste story and realize that less is more? If only he had applied that here. Oh and let's not forget about false awakenings (i.e. dreams and flashbacks), these cliched horror film instruments are overused all throughout the film, it gets boring after a while.

Last but not least, we have the unnecessary big fight at the end between Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neil as the scary monster guy -- This is when I forgot about the whole haunted house in space idea and realized I was watching a preview of "Resident Evil", just replace Laurence Fishburne with Milla Jovovich in this scene.

Remedies for "Event Horizon"

  • For the love of God, take it easy on the stupid soundtrack. Allow the scene to deliver the scare, not the music.
  • Get rid of those space truckers, give us some other people that we actually care about.
  • Axe the "Resident Evil" arena match at the end.
  • This movie probably would have worked better with a space detective angle, making it more aligned with the mystery of the Mary Celeste story.


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    • SPomposello profile image

      SPomposello 6 years ago from NY

      I think maybe in the hands of a different director, this would have been better. This movie was far from being 'The Shining' in space.

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 6 years ago from The Garden State

      Wow, you really hated this one huh? I dig "Event Horizon" (I'm geeky enough that I own the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD and yes, I have actually watched all of the hours 'n' hours of bonus features) though it's the only one of Paul Anderson's films that I really enjoy. It's worth a look just for the set designs and the performance by Fishburne (whose voice can make even the most ridiculous sci-fi claptrap dialogue sound like Shakespeare...)

      In one of the "making of" docs on my DVD, Andersen sez that his original cut of "E.H." was actually quite a bit longer and had a lot more disturbing gore and Hell/torture imagery in it, but the studio made him cut it all out after it freaked out some test audiences. I would love to see a restored director's cut with all that stuff spliced back in, but he sez the studio simply disposed of the extra footage (as was commonplace in the pre-DVD era). Oh well.