In 1997, young English director Paul Anderson, fresh off the box office smash Mortal Kombat (I Know, right!?) had his pick of Hollywood projects. He was even at one point in line to direct the original X-Men movie. Instead, he cherry picked a project called Event Horizon.
Set in the distant future, the deep space exploratory vessel Event Horizon has gone missing. Seven years after her disappearance, their distress beacon is detected, which is mostly static but there is a faint voice speaking Latin, thought to be saying “Liberate Me” (save me). A rescue team, led by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) is dispatched to investigate, along with the ships designer, Doctor Weir (Sam Neil).
When we first encounter Dr Weir, he’s troubled by nightmares which seem to be coming from some kind of link he has with the ship and also relate to the suicide of his wife. He comes across as a shifty dude right from the off and is treated with suspicion and sometimes open hostility by the close knit rescue crew.
When they eventually catch up with the ship, it is listing out of control near an ominous looking Neptune, with a lightning storm kicking off in the background. The visuals in this film are pretty stunning. Everything looks realistic, well used and it has quite a dark aesthetic, making it feel quite foreboding, like a dark malevolent presence is lurking.
As the rescue team board the Event Horizon, it’s clear that some shit has gone seriously wrong. Human remains are splattered all over the bridge, a deep frozen dead body is floating about in zero G and there is no one else around. After power and gravity is restored, the team discover the thing that makes this ship so special. The experimental Gravity Drive, which Dr Weir designed. As they search the ship, the Gothic looking gravity drive whirrs into action, sucking one of the rescue team, Justin, into it. He emerges babbling incoherent nonsense about “the Dark”. Immediately after that, the drive sends out an energy wave which cripples the rescue ship and strands the crew on the Event Horizon.
After unscrambling the last log entry, it reveals a depraved crew torturing and mutilating each other. The now Ex-Captain of the ship emerges on screen, holding his own eyeballs in the palms of each hand, speaking the full Latin phrase Liberate tutemet ex inferis (Save yourselves from hell). Well, holy shitballs, things just got super scary. Turns out, the Gravity Drive not only transported the ship across space, it went to a whole other dimension. A pretty grim one. It also transpires that the ship is now sentient and starts tormenting the crew with hallucinations.
After Captain Miller decides to get the hell out of dodge and blow this horror show of a ship to kingdom come, he is met with unanimous support, all except for the shifty Dr Weir. He’s staying with his ship. He’s under her spell. He disappears into the darkness in a chilling scene whilst whispering “I am home”.
After the rescue team is picked off one by one and the rescue ship is destroyed by the now self mutilated and stark bollock naked Weir, Captain Miller orders the last two survivors to use the front of the ship as a life boat while he deals with Weir and the Gravity Drive. Heroic self sacrifice ensues, with a bloody big bang.
Event Horizon is one of those films that had a rushed production with tons of studio interference, leading to a box office flop which subsequently found it’s audience on home video. I think it’s a bold piece of sci-fi with some amazing sets, chilling cinematography and a really good score, all of which gives it a really claustrophobic, ominous feeling. It’s not one to watch if you hate gore and jump scares, this film plays with your mind. I love it.