Retro Review: Event Horizon (1997)

Infinite space... infinite terror.


Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Writer: Philip Eisner

Starring: Laurence Fishbourne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Sean Pertwee

4 Knives

Event Horizon is notable not only because it’s a mainstream film that successfully mixes the two genres of sci-fi and horror together (a rare occurrence), but also because it’s the only decent movie Paul Anderson has ever directed. Okay, that was mean. The first Resident Evil was okay, but Mortal Kombat? Death Race? Alien VS Predator? I’m sorry, Mr. Anderson, but I don’t think I can ever forgive you for putting my two most beloved movie monsters in the worst crossover flick in the short history of crossover flicks.

Anderson’s lack luster track record not withstanding, Event Horizon tells the story of a bare-bones rescue crew investigating the inexplicable return of a spaceship lost seven years previously in a black hole: the Event Horizon. The ship was the brainchild of Dr. Weir (played by Sam Neill) and he designed it with a “gravity drive” capable of “faster than light flight.” The ship’s controls open an artificial black hole that bends time and allows the crew to travel vast distances in seconds. During the first voyage of the ship, she was lost, but has now mysteriously reappeared – sans crew – floating at the edge of the galaxy. Lawrence Fishbourne plays Miller, the captain of the Lewis and Clark and leader of a crew reluctant to go poking around on this deserted spacecraft. Once aboard the Event Horizon, strange things start to befall Miller and his team. The ship becomes, for all intents and purposes, a haunted house in space. The Lewis and Clark’s crew experience visions, hallucinations, and other disturbances as they come to the conclusion that wherever the ship has been, she’s brought something back with her.

I can’t help but think that in another director’s hands, this film could’ve been even better than it already is. Anderson suffers from what I think of as Joel Schumacher-itis: a primal need to amp everything up to the Nth degree, paint it pink and orange (or another color that doesn’t fit the tone of the story), so that your audience spends the entirety of the film wallowing in absurdity (see Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman and Robin and then realize that you can never unsee them). But even with some of Anderson’s groan-inducing cheesiness (it’s definitely dialed back in this movie), Event Horizon is a thrilling and at times, quite disturbing, horror flick that takes some of its cues from Alien and even Hellraiser. The idea of going beyond the reaches of the known universe and encountering what might exist there is a fascinating one. Plot wise, the movie moves at a healthy clip and there’s very little – if any – filler padding things out. The somber ending (which you probably won’t see coming) makes a lot of sense and I’m glad Anderson didn’t phone in some sort of a sappy wrap-up, or go way too over the top. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just right. Most of the cast turn in great performances, especially the maniacal Sam Neill, Fishbourne as the stolid Captain Miller, and the always-great Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers) as Smitty.

Event Horizon‘s a great film full of disturbing scares that should appeal to sci-fi and horror fans alike. It’s definitely the only part of Anderson’s resume that I consider worth repeated viewings. If only he’d use his powers of non-stop sequeling on this film instead of the umpteenth Resident Evil movie.

One Comment

Leave a Reply



  • Chaz Lingaitis
    1 August 2014 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    Repeated viewings is correct. Till this day it stands as a Goliath above rest. It’s a prime example of how to correctly bring forth horror of the complete unknown.