Halloween Special – Looking Back at: Event Horizon

I’ve never been much of a Halloween guy. Growing up, Bonfire Night was always more my thing. Sadly, because that tradition is nowhere near as marketable as selling super hero costumes and friendly vampire decorations, it seems to be very much on the periphery of Autumn holidays.

On thing I do like are Horror movies, and there’s no better excuse to go back and watch some of my favourites, and where better to start than Event Horizon.

Hardly a classic in many people’s minds, It’s been a movie I’ve always enjoyed. Mixing classic horror tropes with a science fiction setting, it’s a mashing of genre’s that feels tailor made for my personal tastes.

Released in 1997 and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, the movie takes place in the near future as a group of astronauts are pulled out of shore leave and sent to the edge of Neptune to investigate the mysterious reappearance of the Event Horizon; an experimental space craft that had gone missing during its maiden flight without explanation.

Joining them on their flight is the head designer Doctor William Weir, played by Sam Neil. We quickly learn that the ship was outfitted with an experimental engine that could fold space-time itself and create its own wormholes for instantaneous travel.

Once they crew arrive at the Event Horizon, shit very quickly goes sideways as it becomes apparent the ship has taken an on a malevolent presence itself, the implication being that the engines of the Event Horizon took the ship to hell.

The movie itself is a combination of science fiction of the time and classic haunted house movies such as the Shining or any of the adaptations of the Shirley Jackson book; the Haunting of Hill House. Mashing up the “lived in” space ship setting of Ridley Scott’s Alien with gothic design and architecture of the Event Horizon itself.

Despite the classic haunted house inspirations of the sets and themes, the movie is very much a B-movie in the excessive amounts of gore and violence within. And it was almost much worse. Paul W. S. Anderson, had originally intended to be much more graphic in what it showed, but due to a combination of a limited budget and poor screen testing, he ultimately decided to pull back.

Originally, there were scene of the original crew going insane and mutilating one another in a death sex orgy. It becomes more effective when only briefly flashing across the screen, giving you a glimpse into the massacre and letting you fill the gaps in yourself.

The movie comes dangerously close to being off-putting as a result, not that the events going on are warm and welcoming, but there is a line in which an excess of gore can take the audience out of the movie and desensitise them to what’s going on.

The more time the crew spends on the Event Horizon, the more their personal demons begin to manifest themselves, displaying the ship’s almost personal desire to kill anyone who comes abroad it. The cast either finding themselves dead or a tool of the Event Horizon, toying with the remaining crew. Combined with being trapped out in space, it doubles, then triples the terrifying circumstances that a haunted house in space can be.

I enjoy the hell out of this movie. It’s silly, cheap looking at times but it’s one of those bad movie you love. A combination that seems to work so much better in Horror. That being said, this isn’t a movie you laugh at. While there are things you can laugh at, the movie is playing it pretty straight for the most part.

It’s a cult favourite of mine. Combining the kinds of science fiction I really enjoy with a series of good homages to classic horror movies of the past.

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