Let’s revisit our childhoods.
I remember liking Event Horizon when I was 13 years old and this is a large reason why I haven’t rewatched it in years. Directed by Paul Anderson, who created the cancerous blight on the cinematic landscape known as the Resident Evil films is behind this one.
Maybe we shouldn’t rewatch old movies?
Let us bask in the horrible CGI of the late 1990s and search for a ship. We follow a rescue crew led by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) who are answering a distant distress call from a ship thought lost. They bring along Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill), who created the ship (called the Event Horizon), the ship can fold space time to travel further and faster than anything thought possible. When the Event Horizon went missing seven years prior, no one knew what happened, so now that it is found floating around Neptune, the government (or whoever Weir works for) wants answers.
The setup is fantastic, and it is a tragedy that there is a now lost extended cut, so we have to work with what we have. Deep space rescue horror fits into themes where people are completely cut off and have to figure things out for themselves. These sorts of survival horror stories can be the best (in my opinion).
However, it seems so rare that these stories work well. For every The Thing we have at least twenty half-baked attempts at a similar plot.
For this film, I think the characters both help and hurt this one. Weir is deliciously indirect, and Neill does a great job portraying uncertainty and madness. Fishburne should be given more leading roles, and not just in sci-horror. The rest of crew… Well, a lot of them are kind of interchangeable. We have the hardass pilot, the tough medic, the other doctor, the tech one, and some others. They just don’t fit in as well.
The Event Horizon seems to have gone into a hellish dimension and when it came back, so did the evil. The ship begins playing tricks on the crew—often deadly. As things spiral out of control, they must figure out a way to get out and survive. Yet, it seems like the ship wants them to stay forever.
I love the idea of this film, and a lot of the scenes are still interesting. However, we are also plagued by stupid people in a horror movie (never seen that before…). As they are all seeing things, some are hesitant to share—for reasons. The whole “you must be hallucinating” thing annoys the hell out of me, but at least in this one they can credit it to CO2 poisoning from faulty air filters.
I wish we got more information about what exactly happened to the ship. So much of the damage done to the crew is psychological, and this is hard to portray on film with so many characters running around. Simply too much time is spent setting up the scares for there to be enough of a payoff. The film needed another act (that Anderson claimed critics complained about, so he cut it).
1997 was kind of the cusp of the “Director’s Cut” era. Those who don’t remember, you’d see a movie in theaters and then get to see the real version later. We still see this with some unrated or extended films, but it was damn near everywhere. I’m sure someone told Anderson that limiting his vision for the first run would be for the best, but it wasn’t. It never is. Directors shouldn’t compromise because test audiences think something is too bloody or too disturbing.
In this particular case, if Anderson would have gone all out with the gore and madness, we might be reviewing one of the best sci-horror films ever. Now? It’s okay. I love the idea but fail to hold it in high reverence due to a sloppy and mushed up final act, which seems to be thanks to shithead test audiences and not anyone on the crew. I’ve given Anderson a lot of shit on this blog for the Resident Evil films that make me want to puke. However, in this instance he did try to push the boat out, and I respect that.
Fans of sci-horror will have seen this one because it isn’t terrible and there are only like ten films in this genre that can cross that threshold. The CGI is dated poorly, but the makeup effects are great. It isn’t scary, but rather thought-provoking.
So, should we rewatch old films we liked when we were younger? I enjoyed my time with this one despite the flaws, but this seems to be the exception more than the rule. Maybe some things should stay in the past.