Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Event Horizon” has a simple but brilliant concept. A space crew is sent on a mission to investigate a mysterious ship. Years back, this ship went deep into space, only to never be heard from again. Once onboard, they find that the ship is connected to an evil force beyond everyone’s imagination. Essentially, the force onboard hails from Hell itself.
In many ways, “Event Horizon” is inspired by Ridley Scott’s “Alien” (1979), a powerful melding of science fiction and horror filmmaking. Joseph Bennett, the production designer, wonderfully creates an industrial atmosphere, making every facet feel rough and lived in. Adrian Biddle, the cinematographer, expertly photographs the environment, giving us a haunted house that sets an atmospheric stage for director Paul W.S. Anderson, who is clearly influenced by horror films that generate suspense from unknown forces. Like Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” (1980), this antagonistic atmosphere is cold, haunting, and lifeless. It leaves an impression.
Unfortunately, Anderson’s film fails to live up to its premise and influences. From the get-go, poor visual effects are forced down our throats. At times, these effects look like video game graphics, devoid of realism and quality. Once the horror is revealed, we enter a world that has much in common with Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser” (1987), a film that consists of unthinkable evil and eternal torture.
Many people talk about the film’s overwhelming violence, but in all honesty, it’s minimized to the point of having little impact. The flick shows us quick glimpses of gore, cutting away from the convincing, detailed work. Thus, if you want to get the most of this hellish imagery, you will have to pause the film on a consistent basis. If you go down that rabbit role, you will realize that the film shied away from its own unique vision.
By a landslide, the characters are the most disappointing component. In “Alien,” the characters spoke in distinctive ways and much time was dedicated to their group dynamics. Here, Anderson’s flick is in more of hurry, and as a result, the distinctiveness and chemistry of the crew is reduced.
Consequently, the characters are extremely one note, and as the film progresses, we enter a realm of hellish reiteration and razor thin dialogue.
One of the worst things a film can do is display the obvious. Such is the cast with Dr. Weir, played by Sam Neil. Right away, it’s evident that Weir is a man of antagonistic means. The end result is an arc of great predictability. In a continuous manner, Neil’s performance enters caricature-like territory.
Richard T. Jones portrays Cooper, a member of the crew. When compared to the larger narrative, the character of Cooper feels completely out of place. The film is made up of seriously grotesque aspects and yet Cooper feels better suited in a buddy comedy. For such a sinister, dire flick, the humor is too flashy. Overall, it’s a shame that Cooper (a talented African American actor) is forced to play a cartoon-like character, lacking drama, emotion and seriousness.
Laurence Fishburne, a legendary African American performer, plays Captain Miller. Sure, the film gives an African American the chance to play a lead role in a genre film, but that’s not enough. The character must be properly utilized, and sadly that’s not the case here. Like his female counterparts, Fishburne is handed a position of authority that lacks care and potency. His character feels like a humanistic exaggeration complete with monotone communication, not a layered commander filled with fleshed out emotions and versatility.
Anderson attempts to weave in familial tragedy, but to no avail. Since the ensuing fears are showcased without emotional observation, the dream-like scenes fall flat, lacking any sense of impact and poignancy. Occasionally, the film hints at Miller’s past regrets, but at every turn, these personalized negatives are thrown by the wayside, giving us a film that feels unfinished from an emotional perspective. The end result is a poor example of African American leadership on the big screen.
All in all, “Event Horizon” is a cinematic misfire, begging to be perfected in the future. While it possesses an array of admirable visuals, the film leaves much to be desired. If only we could see Anderson’s preferred cut, which featured more character development and tortuous imagery. In the meantime, I have a catchphrase for this film: In space no one can hear you snore.
Writer’s Rating: Incluvie 1.5/5, Movie 2.5/5
Editor Rating: Incluvie 4/5, Movie 2.5/5
Originally Published by Dillon McCarty for Incluvie on 10/23/2019