Wednesday Rewind: Event Horizon -The Shining in space by @V_for_vienetta

No, I don’t think it’s as good as The Shining – are you mental? But “…like The Shining in space, and then turns into Hellraiser at the end” is the first I ever heard of Event Horizon. It was 1997, we were visiting my Nan in Clapham and my Uncle (cousin really) Stuart had seen it the day before. ”Wow” I think I thought, “I have to see this RIGHT NOW”, I probably continued. So, six days later, my friend Chris and I hotfooted it down to the UGC at Brighton Marina for the 3:30pm showing. I recall watered-down coke and awful nachos. Ropey refreshments aside: We. Had. A. Blast. This is why. This is also why I still love it.

Yaargh! Spoiler Pirates says: Here be spoilers!

For those who haven’t seen it, allow me to briefly synopsis-ise you. We’re in the future. An experimental spaceship (the titular Event Horizon) suddenly re-appears after entering a black hole and vanishing seven years ago. A rescue team is dispatched to investigate, but wherever the ship has been it has brought something back with it. That something is not some sweets with a funny name for everyone in the office. All does not go well.

To start, the film begins by going around the back of the Paramount logo and into the stars and I love it when a film incorporates the studio’s logo. EVERY film should do that. There is some wonderfully inventive camerawork, an amazing shot of a space station that zooms out and spins 900 degrees being my favourite.

As well as costing nearly a third of the film’s budget (*high fives IMDB*) this made me feel a bit motion sick. That had never happened to me while watching a film before and the only time I’ve felt vaguely physically discombobulated in the cinema since was watching Jake Sully and co climb the cliff in Avatar. The first shots of the Event Horizon itself are also worth a mention, partially shrouded in cloud and lit by lightning in a decaying orbit, you are in no doubt that the ship is an intergalactic haunted house.

The Rescue Team of the ‘Lewis and Clark’ are a great crew to spend 96 minutes alongside: Laurence Fishburne is Miller, a great Captain with a great Captain’s chair; Lord Jason Isaacs is DJ (“Trauma”), who while being a piss-poor translator of Latin, is always quick to tool up at the first sign of something being amiss; Sean Pertwee plays Smithy, who as well as having some great lines, manages to make cowardice seem cool; Joely Richardson is Starck and plays it hot, strong and unscreamy; conversely, the other female crew member, Peters, while not quite graduating from ‘The Veronica Cartwright School of Going To Pieces When Things Go To Pot On Your Spaceship’, still manages to give the viewer a feeling of not-sorry-to-see-her-offed-iness. Oh yes, and of course there’s Cooper the “life saver and the heart breaker”, who initially seems like a cock, but who you’ll be cheering for by the end, and Justin/”Baby Bear” who has DEAD, in bold, printed all over his youthful forehead from the second he opens his mouth. 

They are joined by Dr. Weir, played by Sam Neill, the Event Horizon’s designer. Apart from having to suck in his tummy for a couple of shots, he’s clearly having a whale of a time and also makes a pretty convincing Diet Cenobite in the final act. Plus, he does this scream.

The tech designs are excellent: the space suits are space-y, but grounded in reality; the clockwork airlock opening mechanism is steam punk-tastic: the neon green circuit board shafts where Sam Neill is terrorised by a blinded, dead wife are gorgeous; the futuristic nail gun is a cool and unexpected weapon, and Miller spinning the chamber and slapping the ammo in equates it to a 2033 six-shooter; then there’s the cherry: the ship’s Gravity Drive.

The action is well shot and set pieces like the air-lock rescue and Sean Pertwee’s final hurrah are exciting and suspenseful. Horror-wise it holds its own too; scares are built through atmosphere and unsettling imagery, instead of reliant on musical stings. To accompany the sense of dread, there are some nice and nasty instances of gore, such as DJ’s denouement and the log revealing what happened to the Event Horizon’s original crew. Apparently the film was originally 20 whole minutes gorier until a test audience gave it the thumbs down and the studio insisted on cuts (I’m closing IMDB now, I swear).

I said this was why I still love it. Well, it’s also why, thirteen years ago, Chris and I left Screen 2, briefly visited the Box Office, turned ‘round and went straight back in again for the 6pm showing.

1 comment:

  1. Nice one thumbs up! I'm so glad someone else referenced Hellraiser :). I swear I expected Pinhead to pop up at the end revealing that Event Horizon was actually one of the Hellraiser series and everyone who had seen it had kept it quite like the ending of Sixth Sense.