Event Horizon (1997)

According to Event Horizon, we will have colonies on the Moon by 2015. About 15 years later, we’ll have started doing things on Mars as well. And by 2040, we’ll have a spaceship that can create black holes with which we can teleport instantly to anywhere we want, apparently including but not limited to Hell. Aren’t humans amazing? We can do so, so much if we put our minds to it. Unfortunately, based solely on this film, we can’t make an involving horror movie set in space involving a killer spaceship.

The year is now 2047, precisely seven years after that black hole creating ship did that and then disappeared. For whatever reason, it has now reappeared and it’s now time for a rescue crew to attempt to find the crew (assuming any members are still alive) and salvage what they can from the ship. The captain of this crew is named Miller (Laurence Fishbourne), and accompanying him is one of the designers of the once-missing spaceship, Dr. Weir (Sam Neill). There are other members as well, although they’re so unmemorable and similar to one another that it’s not worth mentioning them.

Before even arriving at this ship, there is a lot of turbulence. Clouds surround the Event Horizon (yes, the title of the film is the same as the ship that they’re about to spend a while on), and open up within 500 meters before arrival. These clouds are never seen again, which speaks to me as lazy filmmaking, but they serve a purpose here in giving us a very nice first shot of this ship. It doesn’t really matter anyway, as we’re going to be spending most of the time in dark, claustrophobic interior shots. They require less special effects.

Once aboard the ship, several things begin happening, although the reason they occur isn’t explained until much later on. Mostly, the various crew members begin having hallucinations — at least, we’re told they’re hallucinations even after deaths begin to occur because of them. A couple of people are even set on fire (I think it was more than one, anyway), and chalking that up to “hallucination” seems silly to me. There is a naked girl whom one character thinks about, though. There definitely wasn’t a naked girl on the ship.

For the most part, hallucinations are just a convenient way for the film to say “boo!” whenever it seems like the best way to make the audience jump. That’s not scary, and when you lack the atmosphere and tone to make your jump scares even startle — I suppose I should mention at this point that Event Horizon doesn’t set a very good tone or atmosphere — then your “boo!” scenes won’t work at all. I can’t remember a single time that made me jump or wasn’t entirely predictable.

You know how I just kind of introduced something new in the middle of an idea in that last paragraph? How, while talking about jump scares I made mention about how the film doesn’t have a scary enough atmosphere to make them work? You know how I could have easily gone back to an earlier paragraph and inserted it earlier to make it less jarring and seem like I’m better at this writing thing? That’s like what watching Event Horizon is like. Elements are introduced out of nowhere well after they should have been. The pacing is off, and so is the supposed mystery of the ship.

See, we’re made to understand, at some point, that the ship is casing the hallucinations. How does the film tell us this? By having one of the background characters come up from nowhere and telling us that, well before we should. And it’s not even like it’s the guy who built the ship who tells us this, but some random person who decides that the ship is working like an immune system, attempting to clean itself of the humans. Oh, but the doctor knows more than he’s letting on just so he can surprise us later on — without having any reason to.

I wouldn’t care about this if the film was scary. A horror film needs to get one thing right, and that one thing only. The rest is all bonus and extra, but if the main element — being scary — doesn’t work, then we look to other parts to pass the time. I cared about how silly the story was, how it brought in random elements only to forget about them later on, and how the characters didn’t matter or make much sense.

That final point might just be because of how underdeveloped all of the characters are. Even the two leads don’t really have much of a character at all. I’ve read that the original cut of Event Horizon ran 130 minutes, and if most of that was character development, that earlier cut might have been better. It might have explained why some of these situations occurred, how to differentiate between these different people, and why they act the way they do. But the film still probably wouldn’t have been scary, so it still would have been a failure on the whole.

Event Horizon is ultimately a boring horror flick that is neither scary, startling or interesting. There’s nothing to see, nothing to take from it, and nothing that makes it worth watching. It doesn’t have solid characters, a unique plot, or scares. It has jump scares, and it has a reason for those jump scares to be there, but without the audience already being on their toes, these scenes fail. This is a silly film that I can’t recommend, as it’s just too boring to be worth your time.

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