Event Horizon is a science-fiction/horror film released in 1997, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and Written by Phillip Eisner. In terms of box office, it was a dismal failure costing some $60 million to make and only raking in $26 million in U.S. theaters. Over the years, the film has continued to gain fans, even resulting in Paramount Pictures trying to reboot the film as a TV series.
The film fronts future Matrix star Laurence Fishburne as Captain Miller along with Sam Neill who was recovering from another dud, In the Mouth of Madness. The rest of the main cast is filled in by Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Richard T. Jones, Jack Noseworthy , Jason Isaacs and Sean Pertwee. Fishburne excels at being the leader of the search and rescue ship, and Neill manages to give a satisfying performance as Dr. William Weir, the designer of the ship called Event Horizon. Richard T. Jones was sentenced to fulfilling the comic sidekick role with one-off quips intended to provide a comic relief to relieve the tension – as it is.
The beginning of the film shows promise as we get our bearings aboard a space station orbiting Earth, awaiting the launch of a search and rescue ship, the USAC Lewis & Clark. It’s mission is to go looking for the Event Horizon – but only Dr. Weir is aware of their orders until their arrival at Neptune. The camera angles and filming in the first ten minutes manage to root us in time and space, however the next 30 minutes are spent with a lot of exposition with the crew seated around in a circle with Dr. Weir explaining everything in “layman’s terms” for the crew. And for the audience.
The Lewis & Clark and the Event Horizon itself are extremely well-built sets and give the film a very realistic feel. However, when the crew enters the Event Horizon for the first time, apparently the budget did not allow for realistic special effects, as floating objects and liquids look strikingly fake, even more so than the opening credits of the 80s TV show Amazing Stories.
With only 50 minutes left, the pace picks up. However, we are treated to scene after scene of the same type of “hallucinations” each one of the crew is experiencing. Two instances, maybe three, would have been enough, but we are shown over and over to the point until we as the audience say “OK, we get it.” In addition, the film suffers from an arsenal of “Chekhov’s Guns” that hit you over the head with their foreshadowing, including a moment in the first 30 minutes of the film where Miller asks Weir, “What are these?” and Weir replies “charges that will explode to separate the two parts of the ship.” Makes you wonder if we will see them again, right? There is also a scene with female nudity that seems forced and done “because we can” with the film’s R rating.
The film finally starts gaining pace to its foreseeable conclusion and rather abrupt ending. It is remarkable this film is even being considered for a TV revival. The film has received many pop culture nods including a couple of scenes being used in Star Trek: Voyager as well as spoofed in South Park, Tropic Thunder and even Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
As someone watching this film new in 2020, I really wanted to be able to watch the movie and imagine watching it in 1997. However, if I had done so back then, I probably would have come to the same conclusion: good for a rental and viewing – once, but not many probably have this film in their DVD/Blu-ray collection.
Overall Rating: 2/5.
2 thoughts on “Film Review: Event Horizon”
You hit all the major points of what’s good and bad about this film. Thank you!
I watched this one a long time ago. I’m sorry to say I was very disappointed with it and have no desire to see it again. Bit I have it in disc and may have to see it again. I like Fishburn and Neill’s work in other movies I’ve seen.