Sunday, February 7, 2016

Event Horizon


   It's kind of shocking to realize Event Horizon was directed by the same man who also directed Alien vs. Predator and Mortal Kombat- two PG-13 movies that definitely should've been rated R. On the flip side of things, here's Event Horizon- an rated R movie that really should've been NC-17. Or at the very least had the benefit of having an unrated director's cut released on DVD or even Blu Ray by now. This cut would be amazing with all the copious amounts of excised footage spliced back into the movie. It's impossible to sate gorehounds like me, and some of that lost footage would've kicked Event Horizon up a notch into levels of horror and gruesomeness that would've made Clive Barker blush. 

   I could write a whole article about lost footage and MPAA injustice but this isn't the time nor place for that. I can't review a cut of the movie that's not available to me, all I can do is review what I have seen. As is it, Event Horizon is a hell of a ride- pun fully intended. It's a big budget, Gothic horror movie in space. It's incredibly atmospheric and moody. The sets are absolutely fantastic- some of the most unique sci-fi interiors I've ever seen to this day. The production design is brilliant and the movie uses old school scare techniques to great effect. I love the concept, the story, and even the characters- underdeveloped though they may be. 

   Event Horizon was truly underrated at the time of it's release and also very under-appreciated. Yet I'm glad to report that it's found quite the cult following over the years on home video. The movie is about an experimental deep space research vessel named "Event Horizon" on it's maiden voyage when it literally disappears into thin air. Seven years later, a distress signal is picked up, apparently from the Event Horizon itself. In no time at all, the ship's designer, Dr. Weir (Sam Neill) is dispatched to accompany a search and rescue team to investigate. What they find... is nothing short of pure evil. Even in the released version of the movie, there's enough horrific imagery to scare the pants off of the less jaded audience members.

   Despite having about 30 minutes of violent content cut from it before it's theatrical release, Event Horizon is still gruesome and gory as hell. It has visions of hellish orgiastic violence and all other kinds of disturbingly violent imagery. Fortunately it's not just gratuitous blood and guts without context, nor is it non stop. The movie takes it's time to build up to it's shocking visuals and imagery. It takes time to cultivate a dense and creepy atmosphere with raw, palpable suspense and fear. It's helped along by the nature of the concept at it's core, dealing with less specific kinds of evil instead of ghosts or aliens or anything like that. I think this works exceptionally well. I actually don't want to spoil anything in case some of you haven't actually seen this movie yet. 

   It's really worth seeing in my opinion. Even though the sci-fi/horror genre is vast and overflowing with movies that might look very similar to this one, trust me- they're not. In fact, Event Horizon feels more like In the Mouth of Madness plus Hellraiser- in space, of course. It's built on the kind of hallucinatory framework that old haunted house movies or ghost movies are built on. The Shining is also very clearly an inspiration here. But, again I can't wax enough praise on all the design elements of this movie because it is directly responsible for a lot of the unnerving and scary tone throughout. The ship itself, the Event Horizon, looks so unlike your average sci-fi spaceship. Doubly so on the inside. It really is a character itself, with it's cathedral-like architecture and medieval looking corridors.

   The ship looks like a death barge of sorts, with it's various sets, all looking Gothic and unnerving. Even without the context of the movie, this ship looks creepy. Some of the visuals of the ship itself rank among some of my favorite visuals in sci-fi horror movies, period. On top of all that, Event Horizon was made in the late 90's, which means practical effects were still the go-to for blood and guts and spaceships and all that good stuff. The movie is full of gorgeous miniature work, and plenty of fake blood- which is probably an understatement. So, the technical side of things, the physical visuals of the movie are fantastic. Popping with detail and intricacy, you can really see how much time and effort went into making all this stuff.

   Unfortunately the movie is not without it's flaws, but unsurprisingly I feel most of them stem from things that were cut from the movie. Lots of character backstory was left on the cutting room floor, and I think that was a mistake. The story of the movie dives into the lives and sins of it's characters very directly and intimately, so it would've been nice to know more about them overall. We really never do, which would be fine if this was any other kind of horror movie- but it's not. On top of that, a lot of the computer generated effects in the movie look very dated and rather rough. They really went wild with globs of CGI liquid floating around in zero gravity, unfortunately in 2016 it just looks ridiculous.

   Despite all that, Event Horizon is still a real fun movie even if it's not a great one. It's still one that's worth seeking out- especially on Blu Ray. I bought the movie on Blu Ray and was pleasantly surprised at not only how good it looks, but with the wealth of special features included on the disc as well. If you're a fan of this movie, like me, you owe it to yourself to check it out again. If you've never seen the movie before, you're missing out. Great performances from Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill highlight this haunting and atmospheric sci-fi/horror movie. From it's creepy score, to it's stunning visuals, horrific imagery, and amazing set design, Event Horizon excels. It's scary, it's bloody, and I don't care what people say, it's a really fun flick. 

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