still from event horizon

Review: Event Horizon

Theatrical Release Poster

Paul W. S. Anderson’s science fiction horror film, Event Horizon, is an ambitious attempt at telling a haunting and Lovecraftian space adventure. The story follows a space response team, sent on a top secret mission related to a star ship, Event Horizon. What follows is an interesting premise that nails some moments quite well, but overshoots and makes other portions of the story feel more like a joke.

The first act was quite interesting and managed to hook me in with it’s mysterious and offsetting nature. We’re presented a series of confusing and gruesome visuals with no explanation which keeps the sense of tension and horror up. When answers finally do come from Dr. Weir (Sam Neil), even more questions are raised. A lot of these early moments are scary because they’re unknown. They seem like delusions and mirages. In fact, one thing the movie consistently does is deliver frightening moments. There’s a lot of gore and unsettling imagery that makes the environment seem like a form of space hell.

Acting from the main leads is great and keeps the tension up the scenes they’re in. Laurence Fishburne makes Captain Miller feel like a confident, in-charge kind of leader. He’s commands a sense of authority and never feels out of place. Neil is also asked to do… interesting things by the script in the third act, and he delivers as serious a performance he could give, given the way the pacing and development of these scenes went. It helped me retain some level of interest, despite the strange and hilarious lows the plot goes through.

If I had to describe the movie, I’d say it’s the cinema equivalent of a roller coaster- very high highs and laughably low lows. The biggest issue with the movie is a lot of the moments randomly go into overdrive- almost like the script said “exaggerate this moment.” There are dreadful and terrifying scenes in the movie, and I wanted to be more disturbed by them, but it’s hard when characters are yelling obscenities like it’s some kind of slapstick comedy. The third act honestly felt like a different movie at some points because of how strange the inclusion of certain pieces of dialogue felt in relation to the tone the movie wanted to establish. I would be scared, then laugh, then incredulously gawk at the screen, and loop this behavior.

The movie also feels a bit gimmicky at times.There’s an inconsistent “power-scaling” of the antagonist in the movies. It feels like they’re invincible in certain scenes but then immediately after, they don’t protect themselves from taking damage despite seemingly having the ability to. There’s also this weird use of Latin in the movie that’s used to explain certain things, but it feels shoe-horned, unnatural, and like a cheap way to get twist scares. I felt like the environment could’ve used a different method to do the same kind of thing.

After reading about the production issues that plagued the movie, I felt like some of my concerns would have been alleviated if a more true version of the movie had been released in line with the director’s vision, but regrettably those unseen portions of the movie have been destroyed. Given what the movie could have been, it would’ve been great to see it’s more gruesome interpretation. That’s the real tragedy here.

Rating

TLDR: Despite being a bumpy ride, Event Horizon, was surprisingly entertaining. Thought the story is best early on, there are more than enough gory and unsettling moments to hold your interest in the more tumultuous second half.

Final Rating: 7.4/10. I personally enjoyed the movie more than the score indicates and will probably watch it again. If you can handle some goofy and cheesy moments and some inconsistent rules, this film might be in your ballpark. Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!

Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!

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