STARRING: Laurence Fishburne, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Richard T. Jones, Jack Noseworthy

1997, 97 Minutes, Directed by: Paul Anderson

eh.jpg (17152 bytes)Description: A mission in the year 2047 investigates the experimental American spaceship Event Horizon, which disappeared seven years previously and suddenly, out of nowhere, reappeared in the orbit of Neptune. Laurence Fishburne stars as mission commander Captain Miller and Sam Neill is Dr. Weir, the scientist who designed the mystery ship. Miller's T-shirt- and army-green-clad crew of smart-talking pros finds a ship dead and deserted, but further investigations turn up blood, corpses, dismembered body parts, and a decidedly unearthly presence. It turns out that the ship is really a space-age haunted house.

After watching Event Horizon we went to a restaurant across the road where we made a list of all the films it, ahem, "borrowed" from. It is a looong list: The Shining, Alien, Hellraiser, Solaris, In the Mouth of Madness, Aliens, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country, Forbidden Planet, Poltergeist, The Blob, Rambo and Dark Star are only a few I can remember right now.

Besides proving that we have watched too many crappy movies in our time and should perhaps have spent some of our leisure time more constructively, perhaps writing poetry or going to ball games, it shows that the one word that sums up Event Horizon is derivative.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a movie being derivative - especially if we are to believe Umberto Eco’s definition of cult films as being films that contains elements from several movies. But Event Horizon isn’t aiming for cult status, instead it is a case of mind-numbingly unimaginative film-making.

"A film that simply tries too hard . . ."

The plot? An experimental space craft designed for faster-than-light travel disappears for several years before appearing near Neptune. A small rescue mission is sent to investigate what went wrong. The disappeared ship’s empty save for the occasional body part floating around in zero gravity. The key word in the plot synopsis is body parts. There’s a lot of it. If you’re incredibly squeamish then you’re advised to stay clear of Event Horizon. The film is designed to shock, not scare. Thus, buckets of blood.

One of the most eerie films I have ever seen is the Russian art house flick, Solaris, a movie from which Event Horizon "borrows" liberally. Nothing much happens and the pace is lethargic, but the film leaves you with a lingering sense of unease and mystery. Event Horizon is its direct ideological opposite: its pace is frenetic and a lot of (mostly gory) stuff happens. Horror film making 101: the atmosphere created by a film is important.

What we have here is a film that tries too hard. All of which is a shame really because the special effects are very well done, especially a vertigo inducing shot of an enormous space station at the beginning. Rumors have it that an entire half an hour was cut from Event Horizon’s running time. Perhaps with that half an hour reinserted, Event Horizon will be a better film . . .


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