Earlier this year, Paul Anderson made a film called Pompeii 3D. That’s Paul W.S. Anderson as opposed to Paul Thomas Anderson, who has won awards. If you delve into Paul W.S. Anderson’s back catalogue, via a gazillion Resident Evil movies, you eventually reach Event Horizon. If you hit Mortal Kombat, you’ve gone too far.
Not to be confused with The Trap’s brilliant podcast Event Horizon Crescent, this 2047-set horror film stars Laurence Fishburne as the captain of a spaceship, perhaps as training for his role in The Matrix. Morpheus and his crew are sent on a rescue mission to find the Event Horizon, a ship that disappeared somewhere around Neptune. It’s nice to see Neptune finally get some screen time, partly because it makes a refreshing change from the camera whores Mars and the Moon, and partly because it’s so beautifully rendered.
Considering it was made in the terrifyingly distant past of 1997, Event Horizon looks awesome, which is just as well because it’s essentially a special effects movie. Style flies lightyears over substance, but it’s a hell of a ride, hell being the operative word. Paul W.S. Anderson would actually go on to direct Alien vs. Predator and this starts out like another Alien rip-off, but veers wildly off course and through a black hole, descending into a no-holds-barred splatter-fest of stratospheric proportions.
A fantastic Sam Neill explains wormholes using some folded paper and a pencil just as in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. But that’s as much science as you’re getting from Event Horizon, whose characters shout “scanning for lifeforms!” before being horrifically mutilated. This is a scary horror movie, so don’t show it in a physics class or you’ll have some very traumatised kids and pissed-off parents on your hands.
Blood flows in astronomical quantities, with unforgettably gruesome images and an unpredictable atmosphere in which no one is safe and every sentence ends with an exclamation mark. This all-out nuttiness could give Event Horizon cult appeal. A critical and commercial failure, this is a film whose bonkers violence and B movie dialogue would sit comfortably in a packed auditorium full of us weirdos yelling along with lines like: “What are you telling me? That this ship is alive?!”
Event Horizon is really just a B movie with a big effects budget, which Paul W.S. Anderson uses to send the Overlook Hotel into space without checking if that’s really such a good idea. It’s this manic horror and impressive design that makes it so appealing. That and Sam Neill saying: “You know nothing. Hell is only a word. The reality is much, much worse!”