THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
Event Horizon (1997)
Directed by Paul WS Anderson
“Not only is it watchable and entertaining, but it’s solid, one of the best sci-horror movies ever produced.”
I don’t know if many people define Event Horizon as a badass movie. I don’t mean a good movie...no, I mean a real badass, outstanding, f*cked up movie that has never got its due. It should. It’s hell in space in so many ways as it not only looks scary (not one happy color to be seen), but the thing looks painful. It feels horrific and at times is difficult to watch. Not because of sheer gore, but because of agony the crew is put through. The Event Horizon makes the crew go straight crazy, causing just about everyone to rip out their eyeballs (lots and lots of eyeballs get missing). I never bothered trying that myself, but damn, it sure looks like it hurts.
I hadn’t watched Event Horizon for the better part of a decade, but a few scenes stuck out in my head. I vividly remember Sam Neill going full creep villain as he went mad (and ripped out his eyeballs). I remember the Event Horizon’s (the missing ship that the crew is sent to find) spinning innards, a mashing of metal that looked like it might actually work. And I remember blood. Lots and lots of blood. However, my memory wasn’t positive because of one name: Paul WS Anderson. Yeah, the dude who made Mortal Kombat and Alien Vs Predator. Not the worst the director ever, but his movies always taste like cheap whiskey. I like the effect it gives, but it never tastes quality. Event Horizon might be his one exception.
Looking back to 1997 it seems kinda funny that a sci-fi horror was anchored by Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne. I tend to picture both actors now, past their primes, relegated to TV and guest stars in a few movies. Though I think of them as “safe” actors today, I have to remember that they once took chances and once made some damn good flicks. Neill in Jurassic Park and In the Mouth of Madness. Fishburne in Boyz in the Hood and King of New York (a year away from hitting big time with The Matrix).
Anyway, when I gave Event Horizon another shot I was damned impressed. Not only is it watchable and entertaining, but it’s solid, one of the best sci-horror movies ever produced. The acting is never sucks, the production value looks real (I love the ship design), the story captivates, and the fear within plays authentic. Now the cynic might say the film is just a haunted house in space. Well, duh. But isn’t every movie just a spin on another genre? Horizon borrows a lot from Stargate, but smartly ditches the pseudo-Egyptians for demons from hell. It also smartly mimics Alien with the blue-collar approach to the ship. Dudes get the shit work. Small touches like having to patch the outside of the hull works well in making that world seem like it exists.
I’m sure the budget wasn’t much as there aren’t a lot of effects for a space film, but then again the best horror movies are the ones that make best use of their budget. They work within the limitations of the environment. Event Horizon does that effectively with not just the confined space of space and the space ship, but the fear of the unknown in space. The idea of opening up another dimensions in space (just to knock out some travel time) is the ultimate unknown. Hell is most likely a shitty place. If it’s anything like Event Horizon, it’s about time I make a return to church…before it’s too late. And I rip my eyeballs out.