Event Horizon (1997)

Maybe it’s not the aliens we should fear, but ourselves? Then again, maybe not. They’re freakin’ scary!

Smart, but slightly off-kilter astrologist Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) creates a ship called the “Event Horizon” which, for one reason or another, can create small, black gravity holes and do a whole bunch of other cool and fancy things. The first crew to go aboard the spaceship onto a mission for Neptune, somehow vanish into thin air. Nobody knows how, why or where – they just know that one day, everything went dead. This is when Weir decides that it may be his time to finally go and see what has happened to those crew-members, and most importantly, to his creation, but not without some much-needed, professional guidance first. Enter the spaceship called “Lewis & Clark”, commandeered by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), the type of no-nonsense guy you’d expect to see on such a high-class mission such as this. And for awhile, everything seems to be going all perfect, that is until some of the crew-members begin to see some weird images, that may or may not be actually “real-life” or just plain and simple “hallucinations”. Nobody knows, and yet they are all experiencing them, even Weir himself, who may be getting even more sadistic images in his head than the others.

"....well then you better go catch it!!!"
“….well then you better go catch it!!!”

So yeah, I bet you can already get your pen and papers ready and try to chalk this one up to being, yet again, just another carbon-copy clone of all sci-fi, lost-in-space movies like Alien, 2001, or hell, even Lost in Space itself. And to be honest, if you were to do so, you wouldn’t be wrong; everything that you see here doesn’t have much originality to it in terms of what new technology it introduces, or what sort of logic about its premise and high-tech gadgets it may make us try and believe. But there is something to be said for a movie that doesn’t really try to go out there and re-invent the wheel, but instead, just tries to keep things small, contained, claustrophobic, and straight-up in-your-face, like any good B-movie, you know?

Especially if that B-movie just so happens to be directed by this guy.

Yep, before Paul W.S. Anderson started forcing us to notice and pay attention to how hot his wife is, the guy was another ambitious, inspired and up-and-coming film-maker that had a predilection for big, loud and extremely dumb sci-fi movies. You could argue that his taste-preference hasn’t quite changed since then, but you also could, considering that it seems like he definitely put some thought into these movies, rather than just making the same damn video-game adaptation, time and time again.

I mean seriously, how many times can we honestly see Milla Jovovich blow-off some zombie’s head, while barely-clothed!??!?

But I digress. Mainly what I am trying to get across here is that Anderson is a bit of a joke nowadays (especially being that he’s usually considered “the lesser director Paul Anderson”), but back then, when he was just getting started, the guy showed that he knew how to frame a story, make it tense, make it go all-over-the-place and most of all, make it fun. While this movie definitely starts-off a bit too plot-heavy, eventually Anderson himself decides to throw most of that out of the window and just allow us to feast our eyes on a bunch of characters just losing their cool and not knowing what to believe and take-in as “real”, or “make-believe”. And needless to say, Anderson frames this idea perfectly and actually has us in the mind-set of not knowing just what the hell to believe, or what to expect next. Always fun when you have a movie like, no matter how original its plot may, or may not be.

I guess the "hard-as-nails, take-no-crap black lieutenant cliche" could work for a movie that takes in space.
I guess the “hard-as-nails, take-no-crap black lieutenant cliche” could work for a movie that takes in space.

As you could expect too, the dialogue is, at times, horrendous. The fact that it’s being delivered by some talented, and relatively substantial names, definitely gives it an extra-push to where it’s not as grueling as it may have been with lesser-people involved, but so is not the case here. Laurence Fishburne is definitely the stand-out in this movie because it’s quite clear that he knows exactly what he signed-up for, and lets there be a couple of moments of light in his eyes, shine through whenever necessary. However though, most of the time, he just stone-faces this material, and oddly enough, makes it work because of how strict and uptight this character is. Same sort of goes for Sam Neill who is able to make any sci-fi mumbo-jumbo sound the least bit credible, even if it is abundantly clear, right from the get-go, that he’s definitely a bit of a weird guy who, I for one, would not trust around me for a single bit on Earth with, let alone flying millions and millions of miles into space.

Everybody else that shows up here is fine, too, but I don’t really want to stress any of them all that much because this isn’t really an “actor’s movie”. It’s less concerned with them, and more concerned with how it looks, feels and entertains us as movie-goers, and with that idea taken into mind, the movie does a mighty fine job at doing so. You can clearly tell that most of this movie’s budget went right into the look that Anderson packs with all sorts of 90’s-CGI, that is dated, but then again, it’s the 90’s, so what else could ya expect?!?! And also, any movie that’s as up-front about its numerous amounts of blood, gore and violence as this movie is, always deserves a free-pass from me, especially since it is quite rare to ever get a sci-fi extravaganza that’s rated-R. Maybe that’s why this movie bombed in the first place, but that’s not the point. The point is that while the movie definitely may not have had everybody clamoring at the knees to see it on opening-day weekend, it still seems to have gain a pretty loving, and devoted cult-following; the same one I guess you could consider myself apart of, even though I probably won’t be going to any special events for it anytime soon. Or ever, for that matter. I think a Netflix watch is just enough for me.

Consensus: You can’t wholly expect greatness from Paul W.S. Anderson, but with Event Horizon, you can at least expect him to deliver the goods on a not-so original story that’s fun, exciting and a tad unpredictable, especially once crap begins to hit the fan for everybody involved. Including yourself, the viewer.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Less creepier than before, Sam. Nice job.
Less creepier than before, Sam. Nice job.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo


  1. That first line is killer, just killer. This is like Paul’s Sixth Sense. He’s done nothing since this that is half as ambitious as Event Horizon. Yet he keeps getting work! Who hires these hacks?!?! Serious question, Pompeii? There’s no way it’s gonna be good, right?

    • The guy always gets work, not because of his talent, but mainly because of who he is married to. And also, because he’ll take junk like this and work with it.

  2. While reading this I felt you didn’t like this flick, then suddenly its ‘fun, exciting and unpredictable’ and you give it 7/10, that means pretty good.
    But generally this doesn’t seem like my cup of tea, yet i enjoyed the review.

  3. You are bang on.

    This was perhaps Anderson’s only watchable flick. Specially, back then in 1997 when I watched it on the big screen it did take me by surprise. I guess Anderson fell into some creativity-void black hole and stopped evolving after this film 😉

  4. Nice post – I’ve always found this movie to be really disappointing – the concept is brilliant (it was pitched as The Shining in space) but the execution is terrible, I can’t imagine what a better director would do with this. I’ve always found it a silly B-movie and not very scary which is a shame.

    • It’s a silly B-movie that definitely does what you’d expect it to do. However, the problem is that it is sometimes too dumb and strange for what it seems to be going for. Whatever that may have actually been, I don’t know.

  5. First time I saw this film, I won’t lie, it scared me. Still think it’s a brilliant sci-fi/horror film. It’s got some great horrific imagery at times.

  6. Great review Dan. I really like this film. You’re right in regards to it being fairly run-of-the-mill in plot terms, which for me makes it feel like a throw-back to – as you mentioned – the likes of Alien. Which is a good thing; it cannot better the Alien’s of cinema, but it doesn’t try to either.


  7. I haven’t seen this film in a number of years, first time I watched it was when I was like 8 or 9 years old and remember it being pretty good. I’ve been meaning to watch it again for a few years now, think I’ll give it a watch soon. Great review man.

  8. Sam Neill’s definitely at his best when playing this type of weird guy who’s inches from going straight off the rails. I also don’t get how they’d ever trust a person like that; it’s only a matter of time with him. I haven’t re-watched Event Horizon since I saw it in the theater. I remember thinking it was terrible, but I also couldn’t get that feeling of dread out of my mind. Some of the nasty “let me show you hell!” images are still there, and that says a lot about the movie this far down the road.

    • There are some images here that will be imprinted into my mind for quite some time, and I think that’s definitely a reason as to why this flick deserves to be seen.

  9. Genuinely one of my favourite Tier 2 sci-fi movies. Sam Neil is fantastic in it, especially in the final third. You’ve made me want to dig it out again and give it a whirl!! Nice review!!

  10. A great review, not only is this one of my favourite guilty pleasures but also still remains for me Paul W.S. Anderson’s best film!

  11. I’ve always felt this had more potential than it delivered. The build-up in the early part of the film is as good as Alien but it falls apart a bit. I liken this film to Sphere – good start, mediocre middle, poor end.

  12. Event Horizon is definitely a movie where everything, and I mean everything, is overshadowed by the scary gross effects and designs. But you have to admire a movie that pushes the limit and tries to deliver some quality scares. For ME, it is mostly the gross horror elements that keep it from being a re-watchable movie. lol. You’re too kind with the rating as well! Oh well, at least it was unique and that’s more than you can say for movies that hiding behind their pg-13 rating.

  13. I thought that the first half of this movie was scary as hell. The whole “is it real or is it hallucinations” bit worked very well, as did the concept that SOMETHING came back with the ship. I felt the movie went off the rails when they decided to make that possible evil physical and have someone run around the ship trying to kill people. That just turned it into every generic horror film ever made.

    And then they went and remade it as Sunshine about 10 years later – with the exact same flaw in it.

  14. Event Horizon is actually one of my favorite thrillers. Sure, there’s a lot better or maybe Paul W. Andersons’s style, ridiculous as it sounds, works for me. The suspense, the guessing, the unknown factor all works for me in this one. I mean, I looked at his works before and I realized that I like a lot of his work, especially since Resident Evil is my ultimate guilty pleasure. The only one I probably want to ignore he did was AVP…now that was pretty bad… Talking about that, I really should go see Pompeii..haha! Awesome review, Dan! 🙂

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