Thursday, October 27, 2011

Event Horizon (1997)

The blackness of space

This threw some viewers off when it came out. To set it straight, this is horror first and then an action film that uses science fiction only to set up its diabolical premise. Nothing here projects a utopian society with social commentary or to show progress with science. This is essentially a haunted house like movie except on a space ship in the slightly distant future. All the more reason for not being able to escape the dwelling due to the inside being just as terrifying as the outside. The movie tends to creep up not only on its characters but its audience as well. I mean, a ship displaying supernatural occurrences the moment the crew steps foot on would have most likely made them turn around. It makes sense that there will be pop out scares and random occurrences to make them second guess themselves until it's too late. The horror is psychological in that the characters can't trust their own senses, which are being toyed and manipulated with by a much more devilish force than you can imagine. Instead of making the future a better place, it makes the idea of space exploration about as dangerous as walking down an unknown alleyway in an unfamiliar neighborhood where a presence is lurking in the dark that knows your next moves better than you do.

A crew for the U.S.A.C. is sent out for a search and rescue operation in the year of 2047 near Neptune. A share are of the foul mouthed, joking military kind except with a stern commander named Miller (Laurence Fishburne) to make sure everything goes in order. On board is a guest named Dr. Weir (Sam Neill) who explains that what they're after is the thought to be lost deep space research vessel called "Event Horizon." Seven years ago it was used as a secret government experiment to prove that a vessel can travel faster than light with a gravity drive; essentially it creates a black hole to fold space to get from point A to point B quicker to cut down time on future space travel to reach the stars and beyond. After a seemingly innocent accident, their own ship gets damaged and they have to all board Event Horizon for the meantime. If they don't fix their own ship in time their resources will run out in the remote area of space...but that might not be all that can get them. The crew begins to let their emotions fly and not have each other's best interests in mind. The characters seem like archetypes at first for their specific jobs, though as it moves on the ship has a way of extracting hidden secrets that include their worst fears and nightmares from their past with what seems to be life like hallucinations. The more they find out about the empty Event Horizon, the more their mind wanders into the possibilities of just where the past crew went missing to and where they themselves are headed next.

After setting up its premise, this is a rapidly paced movie that doesn't always get time to truly get inside each of its characters or give them all the depth they deserve which can make it lean a little on the simpler popcorn entertainment side--some one-liners tacked on as well. Though in another regard they display terrified and anxiety ridden reactions for such an incredulous predicament they found themselves in to make it more relating for the audience if they'd potentially do the same. It makes you wonder how much further it could have been taken if it wasn't cut down to make it an R rated film from originally getting NC-17. At times the story is somewhat basic where they move from one place to the next and back again but still with a share of memorable and now classic scenes in between. "Event Horizon" was capable of fully fleshing out its underlying concept as it had the luxury of a high budget with a share of panning shots and amply built sets with unique designs of both the physical and CGI kind.

The gravity drive room is something to really behold with three large rings closely rotating a sinister looking sphere. The orchestral music can go from deep and bombastic build ups to high pitched and racy as if it was scored for a heart-racing thriller instead. The beginning section has some kind of electronic music combination that seems in contrast to the picture but probably purposely so for what's to come. There are some grisly, cruel and downright evil prosthetic effects that are occasionally blended with CG. I seen this film when it came to theaters and still have some of them stuck in my head. The sets are typically cold and gray, with a utilitarian metal design in some regard and grand and futuristic in scope in others. It manages to give this a futuristic hint but not so far distanced that the cold and downcast atmosphere doesn't get through to chill one's bones in the present time.

Rating: 8.5/10

Director: Paul Anderson (Shopping, Mortal Kombat)
Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Richard T. Jones, Kathleen Quinlan, Jack Noseworthy, Jason Isaacs, Sean Pertwee, Joely Richardson
Link: IMDB

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