Sunday, February 17, 2013
Event Horizon (1997)
Event Horizon was a pretty decent box office disappointment. It cost around $60 million to make (today that would be close to $150 million) and only grossed domestically a little over $20 million. However, Event Horizon has developed a pretty decent cult following in the 15 plus years since it was released. Therefore, I thought I would give it another look.
Event Hoizon refers to the name of a spacecraft that disappeared into a black hole in the year 2040; seven years later it has resurfaced and a ship (The Lewis and Clark) is sent out to investigate and hopefully find some surviving crew members. The Lewis and Clark crew is led by a very stern and somewhat bored looking Laurence Fishburne who sits in this captain's chair that appears to hang from the ship's ceiling for no purpose other than either the director or set decorator had never seen that before and thought it would be cool. The rest of the motley crew are for the most part played by good actors (Kathleen Quinlan, Joley Richardson, and Jason Issaacs among others) but they have very little distinction as characters other than some are boys and some are girls. Sam Neil also joins the crew as the man who has been investigating the disappearance for the last seven years (he has a special tie to the EH crew).
While it appears that no one has survived whatever happened on the EH after the descent into the black hole, there appears to be some sort of ominous presence left behind on the ship. After they are able to clear up some recordings left behind, they are able to uncover the grisly truth of what really happened and realize that they might be dealing with something not only otherworldly but possibly an event that could lead them to the gates of hell.
Although, the film is never really clear on any of what is actually happening which is something that makes Event Horizon so frustrating. In Phillip Eisner's original screenplay, the ship was actually attacked by aliens and the Lewis and Clark crew end up having to face them as well. The director, Paul W.S. Anderson, decided this was too close of a resemblance to Ridley Scott's Alien so he asked Eisner to look at haunted house films like The Haunting and The Shining to derive inspiration from them for his story. But even without the aliens, this still resembles Ridley Scott's film (which derives a lot of its inspiration from The Haunting as well and a lot more successfully). At least with the aliens it would seem like more of a rip off but we would have a clearly defined villain.
We never actually see anything attacking the crew and really only one of the crew members gets affected in any way that matters which essentially makes this character the villain in the last twenty minutes of the film. This story direction seems tacked on because someone realized that there needs to be someone for the audience to look at as the bad guy and not something that came from any place remotely organic. The rest of the crew, for the most part doesn't even seem affected. Jack Noseworthy's character, Justin, is sucked into some black goo that pops up out of nowhere and comes back a little weird but manages to snap out of it pretty quickly, and Quinlan's character at one point hallucinates (she sees her son who is back on Earth with his father), but that's about the extent of it. Fishburn comes into contact with all sorts of I assume supernatural phenomenon and remains unaffected by it.
Anderson is not liked by too many genre fans, and this movie has actually developed into the one that even the haters rally around. I like Anderson to the extent that I am genuinely entertained by the first Resident Evil movie and I don't hate Mortal Kombat and Death Race. Event Horizon would probably fall just below the latter films for me but well above his lesser films like Alien vs. Predator, Soldier, and the Resident Evil sequels he's directed. It's not high praise, but I guess I liked the movie a little better than I did fifteen years ago. I don't see why it has so many defenders, but it's very possible fifteen years from now I'll give it another go and maybe I will get it more then. We shall see.