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A Review of the 1997 Film "Event Horizon"

3 out of 5 stars
A Review of the 1997 Film "Event Horizon"

Event Horizon had the potential to be an even better film, it really did, yet it seemed to have squandered those hopes in the last half hour by resorting to gore.  The casting, for one thing, was impeccable.  Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne are, generally, pretty serious actors.  So to see people like the characters they play psychologically crack up onscreen should be terrifying.  Yet it wasn’t, because the proper execution just wasn’t there.

And then, of course, there’s the whole “the ship went to hell, and it came back alive!” premise.  First of all, hell has been done so many times that it’s boring now.  If you’re going to tackle the hell cliche, you should probably only do so if you’re sure that your style is fresh and new.  You say “hell” to me, and I’m already cheek-to-hand, drifting off.

And as for the ship being alive, this felt like a concept that begged to be delved into further, yet the surface was barely scratched.  Comparisons of this film to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Event Horizon suffering in comparison, were warranted. 

Watching the film now, as opposed to when it first came out, also allows me to compare it to Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, which I feel is a vastly superior film.  A lot of folks didn’t like Sunshine’s genre switch-up right in the middle, but I thought that added to the excitement, whereas with Event Horizon, you always feel like you’re on the edge of a really good sneeze that just never manifests.

Event Horizon also relied on its fair share of cheap scares.  For one thing, when Peters is hallucinating about her son and D.J., I think it was, yells her name to bring her out of it - why would you yell at her?  Picture that as a real situation.  You’re zoning off, the person next to you has no idea what you’re doing, only that you seem scared, and he screams at you to bring you back to reality.  Yeah, great - that’s just what you need when you’re terrified.

Plus, Peters grabbing a knife (before seeing the hallucinations) to defend herself was rather silly.  You’re in space!  Who could possibly be on board the ship with you, aside from the crew who accompanied you there?  Sure, they still weren’t sure yet as to whether or not everyone on the Event Horizon had perished, but the odds were looking pretty good.  If you had to defend yourself from anything, honey, it certainly wasn’t something that was tangible and therefore vulnerable to stabbing.

[SPOILERS]

Cooper (Richard T. Jones) was a riot, and I was both glad and surprised that he made it through alive, and it struck me as innovative that when I was 30 minutes from the end of the film, no one had yet died (that resilient Justin).  Of course, it seemed like the filmmakers realized that at around the same point, because then folks just started dropping like flies.

The cast was great, the pacing was good, and the dialogue wasn’t altogether cheesy.  But Event Horizon could have been a fantastic psychological thriller that unfortunately succumbed to and descended into its own madness.

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