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Film: Event Horizon
Liberate...me...

"I created the Event Horizon to reach the stars, but she's gone much, much farther than that."
Dr. Weir

A 1997 movie by Paul W.S. Anderson where astronauts investigate an experimental ship (the eponymous Event Horizon) that disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

Okay, a little more explaining...

In the year 2047, a signal from the starship Event Horizon is picked up on Earth. The ship had disappeared without trace beyond Neptune in 2040. The ship has reappeared in a decaying orbit around the planet Neptune, and the rescue ship Lewis and Clark is dispatched to investigate. The ship's crew is commanded by Capt. Miller (Laurence Fishburne) and carries the Event Horizon's designer, Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill).

No definitive trace of human life is found; inconclusive sensor readings lead the Lewis and Clark's crew to enter the Event Horizon to search for survivors. Things start to go very wrong very quickly, it appears that someone or something is toying with them, and more, the question is what has the Event Horizon become?

Event Horizon is a very effective Cosmic Horror Story, basically Lovecraft IN SPACE! Or as some like to call it, a very disturbing prequel to the Warhammer 40,000 series.

Not to be confused with Moral Event Horizon, or Despair Event Horizon. Or, for that matter, the term for the region around a black hole from which light can no longer escape. For the game that was heavily inspired by the film, see Dead Space.


This film provides examples of:

  • Absent Aliens: Though it's implied there is something out there, no non-human life forms are ever seen. Unless you count the possessed-by-evil ship itself.
  • Alliterative Name: Doctor William Weir.
  • Antagonist Title: The ship becomes alive and demonic after passing through Hell.
  • Apocalyptic Log: "Liberate tutamae... ex inferis..."
  • Artistic License - Astronomy: Strangely averted, given the liberties taken with physics below: Neptune looks like Neptune should look; we see an accurate depiction of its moon Triton in the foreground as the Lewis and Clark enters the system; its small moon Nereid is briefly glimpsed, and Miller mentions that they are "three billion clicks from the nearest outpost," which happens to be the orbit of Saturn (perhaps a colony on Titan?).
  • Artistic License - Physics: It's noted in the film that the FTL Drive the Event Horizon supposedly has can't work because of the Law of Relativity stating that FTL travel is impossible. William Weir, as he puts it, had to work around it, which is where Folding Space comes into play and the cause of everything that happen in the movie. To be specific, the ship's initial jump sent it to an infernal dimension of entropy and chaos, which not only caused the crew to kill themselves but irreversibly changed the ship in a way that causal and rational physics are incapable of defining, meaning all bets are off. It's also implied that even the survivors who made it back to Earth are still screwed, not just from having interacted with the ship, but from having spent so much time on the remaining chunk. Chaos Corruption at its most basic.
    "You break all the laws of physics, and you seriously think there wouldn't be a price?"
    • The movie never quite works out which pseudophysics handwave it intends to use for the ship's FTL capability; the description given by Weir suggests the ship works by warp drive; however, the events that actually transpire suggest it was some kind of hyperdrive.
  • Bath Suicide: Weir's wife, Claire, which constantly comes to haunt him.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: The final confrontation between Miller and demon-possessed Weir.
  • Big Bad: The Event Horizon itself, with Weir eventually coming to serve as The Dragon.
  • Big "NO!": Delivered by Weir when Miller activates the explosives, cutting the gravity chamber off from the rest of the ship as it's about to go into the hyperspace dimension and sacrificing himself to save what's left of his crew.
  • Big "OMG!": Miller after he sees Weir's self-inflicted Eye Scream.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The Event Horizon itself. The hallway leading to the engine room is a giant rotating tube lined with spikes. The engine room itself is lined with yet more Spikes Of Doom, and the engine itself is literally beautiful. It's cool, but the actual purpose of the designed is handwaved away as "reducing the effects of the gravitational field." In reality, the ship's exterior itself was designed by scanning in images of Notre Dame Cathedral and mix-and-matching the various elements. Even the structural scaffolding along the neck was based on the stained-glass windows of the Cathedral.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted. Cooper, who in any other movie would be prime fodder for this trope, is one of the few to survive the entire film. Capt. Miller dies, but only in the last few minutes.
  • Body Horror: Gratuitous Eye Scream happens. Also, a frozen body shatters to pieces on the floor when gravity comes back.
  • Came Back Wrong: The whole ship.
  • Canis Latinicus: Notably averted. The phrase in question, while often misheard as "Liberate tutame ex inferis" (which makes no sense), is actually "Libera te tutemet ex inferis", which is good Latin and means what they say it does ("Save yourself from hell").
  • Cat Scare: When first exploring the Event Horizon, Miller is spooked by what looks like a hand grabbing his face. It's just a loose glove from a space suit floating in the gravity free environment.
    Cooper: (amused) Cap's got a case of the heebie jeebies.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The explosive ship cutting charges.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Cooper, in keeping with his status as resident Uncle Tomfoolery.
  • Conveniently Interrupted Document: At the beginning of the film, the ship receives part of a signal from the titular vessel containing a message in Latin. As the signal is partly corrupted, they initially take the message to be "Liberate me" - "save me." Upon acquiring the full signal and inspecting it closer, they find that the message is actually "Libera te tutemet ex inferis" - "Save yourself from Hell."
  • Conveniently Precise Translation: Subverted. The distress signal sent by the titular starship contains the Latin phrase liberate me ("save me"). It was later realized that the message was libera te tutemet ex inferis ("save yourself from Hell").
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Hell is the easiest way for the characters to describe whatever it was the Event Horizon passed through:
    "Hell is only a word. The reality is much, much worse."
  • Covered with Scars: When the ship brings Weir back for the final showdown, he is bald, naked, and covered in freaky scars. It did give him his eyes back, strangely enough.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The opening scenes might incline you to believe that Weir is the protagonist, but by the end, it's clearly Miller.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Weir's leads to his crossing the Moral Event Horizon. (Sense a pattern?)
  • Distress Call: The Event Horizon sending one after having disappeared a long time ago is what kicks off the story.
  • Door Closes Ending: It ends with the door closing to the sleep chamber deck as Starck screams uncontrollably from the stasis nightmare she's had as the rescue crew try fruitlessly to calm her.
  • Double Entendre: Cooper, in a Shirtless Scene, offers Starck a cup of coffee.
    "Want something hot and black inside you?"
    Starck flips him offnote 
    "Is that an offer?"
    "Well, how 'bout some coffee, then?"
  • Dramatic Thunder: IN SPACE!! Lightning illuminates the ship interiors occasionally, justified in that the ship is in a decaying orbit around Neptune which has storms with wind speeds up to 2000 km/h. The ship is already in the upper thermosphere and continues falling deeper into the atmosphere over the course of the film.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: The first image of the film is Weir's nightmarish vision of the ship.
  • Drop What You Are Doing: Peters does upon seeing the restored Apocalyptic Log.
  • Driven to Madness: Weir, after the ship continually shows him horrific visions of his wife and makes him relive his wife's suicide.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Weir's wife in his backstory.
    • Justin tries to blow himself out an airlock after being sent through the singularity. However, since he snapped out of it halfway through, it's equally likely that the ship made him do it then left at just the right moment for him to realize he's about to die horribly.
  • The Eeyore: D.J. Lampshaded by Miller.
  • Eldritch Abomination: It's unclear just what happened to the ship, but it's hinted pretty heavily that it took one of these back with it, or became one itself. Whatever happened, the sensor suite on the Lewis and Clark says that the ENTIRE SHIP IS ALIVE.
  • Eldritch Location: This is putting what's on the other side very lightly. The ship itself is this, too.
  • Eldritch Starship: The Event Horizon was an excellent example of one even before it was warped into a tortured consciousness by exposure to a hellish extradimensional realm. It should be noted though that the interior design of the ship, with its odd cybergothic architecture, including its extremely strange "central core" and the "meat grinder corridor" leading to it, as well as the numerous spikes and other elements of its rather terrifying aesthetic (some of which, like the "meat grinder corridor," are handwaved as being essential to the ship's operation). It's definitely one of the weirdest human-designed ships on this list, even before being possessed by extradimensional evil. It's also one of the closest examples on this list to an ISO Standard Human Spaceship, despite being simultaneously this trope.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: The vertigo-and-motion-sickness-inducing pull-out from Weir opening his shutters, revealing him to be on a sprawling space station in orbit above Earth.
  • Evil Is Hammy: For much of the film, Weir is rather quiet and self-effacing. After he's taken by the ship, he quickly becomes as theatrically evil as you'd expect a daemonically-possessed Mad Scientist to be.
  • Expy: Universal Orlando's annual Halloween Horror Nights event had the haunted house "Interstellar Terror" in 2008, which the Art & Development team proudly admitted was directly inspired by Event Horizon: the first interstellar star ship disappears, then reappears several years later orbiting the moon. You go aboard and find that an alien artifact the crew found has driven them into homicidal insanity.
  • Exty Years from Now: Produced in 1997, and set in 2047.
  • Eye Scream: This movie basically runs on this trope. It might hold some kind of record for most injured eyes/sockets in a major Hollywood movie. In fact, the very first person we see in this film is missing eyes! This is barely two minutes in, mind you.
  • Eyeless Face: Due to the above.
    "Where we're going, we won't need eyes to see."
  • Face-Heel Turn: Weir. Played with, as it seems he may have been possessed by the ship itself.
  • Failsafe Failure: The airlocks on the Event Horizon are designed in such a way that a depressurization sequence cannot be canceled from either side of the airlock once it's been activated. While it is a reasonable precaution not to allow both the inner and outer doors to be open at the same time, there is no excuse for not having an abort command when it takes half a minute to actually finish depressurizing the airlock. Then again, what isn't affected by the Eldritch force inhabiting the Event Horizon?
  • Fan Disservice: Weir's hallucination with his dead and half-naked wife.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Event Horizon's purpose. Didn't go so well.
  • Fate Worse than Death: What awaits anyone entering hyperspace, such as the original crew before the beginning.
    • There's a number of extremely graphic subliminal still frames shown as Miller relieves the "visions" of what awaits him on the other side before he destroyed the ship - These are supposedly provided to him by both the ship and the revived Dr. Weir at three different points throughout the movie. None of these gruesome images appear onscreen for more than ~5 frames though, and for good reason.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Weir
  • Genre Shift: Starts out as a near-future hard SF space exploration movie, but doesn't really stay that way.
  • Ghost Ship: The Event Horizon.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Apparently even a glimpse of hyperspace is too much for most people's minds to handle.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The film's basic premise is an attempt at FTL that Goes Horribly Wrong.
  • Gorn: While the film itself is bloody (the original cut was so unnerving that 30 minutes were cut before release), the Apocalyptic Log falls straight into this.
  • Head Desk: Dramatic example; in the aftermath of Smith's death, Miller does a subdued version of this against the nearest wall.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Miller lets himself get blown up just as the ship is about to enter hyperspace to save the rest of the crew. Granted he didn't have time to escape the ship and death is a far better fate than what was waiting for him in the other dimension.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: things went horribly wrong due to the ship "folding space"... and returning.
    • It should be noted that the "hyperspace" the ship goes into is strongly implied to be either Hell itself, or something far, far worse than what you're probably imagining right now.
    • Entering a dimension where our laws of physics don't apply is probably enough to scramble anyone's brains. As Weir said, it's a dimension of "pure chaos" - chaos as in a lack of normal natural order.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Spoken by an apparition of Weir's wife early in the film. Made all the more chilling when we realize how she died.
  • Inertial Dampening: The rescue ship Lewis and Clark has an ion drive that produces 30 gees of acceleration, so the crew spends the trip sealed into fluid-filled pods to avoid becoming wall-gazpacho.
    D.J.: When the ion drive fires, you'll be taking about 30 Gs. Without a tank, the force would liquefy your skeleton.
    Weir: I've seen the effect on mice.
  • In Space Everyone Can See Your Face: Averted, especially in the final scene.
  • It's The Only Way To Be Sure: Upon seeing just what really happened to the Event Horizon's original crew, Miller decides that the best thing for everyone is to fire missiles at it until it ceases to be a ship.
  • Kick the Dog: Justin and Peters.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: (upon seeing the restored Apocalyptic Log) "We're leaving."
  • Last Note Nightmare: The Paramount logo starts out normally, then the soundtrack wails, as the logo darkens and lifts away, and then the score begins with a threatening string section.
  • Layman's Terms: Weir tries to explain... and Techno Babble comes instead of simple terms.
    Miller: Layman's terms.
    Cooper: Fuck layman's terms, do you speak English?
  • Love Makes You Evil: Dr. Weir's guilt over his wife's suicide is exploited by the ship to it's full extent.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Weir's first few nightmares would seem to be mundane since he is not yet on the ship, but they also appear to be prophetic, suggesting perhaps a greater range of influence for the ship than we might first suspect. Or his grief and guilt are so strong, it's the first natural thing for the ship to latch on to and exploit.
    • The ship also seems to exploit past grief and guilt Miller's guilt over his crewman's death, Peters's guilt over her son, Weir's guilt over his wife. Perhaps the ship/hell dimension is merely a conduit for the torture and torment that unresolved guilt brings to a person.
  • Meaningful Name: The Event Horizon is a ship that creates a black hole to travel through space-time; an event horizon is the point in the gravitational pull of a black hole beyond which light can no longer escape.
  • Meat Moss: The bridge of the Horizon seems to have some stretched across the walls. If you look closely, you can see screaming faces in it.
  • Mind Rape: Weir projecting nightmarish images to Miller of his crew in "hell."
  • Monster from Beyond the Veil: This role is filled by the Event Horizon herself, Dr. Weir's brainchild. Fortunately, it becomes his Life's Work Ruined. The ship employs several, though most are arguably either hallucinations or phantoms reconstructed by the ship from their own minds. When Weir comes back though, he's clearly real enough.
  • Nightmare Sequence: At the end, Starck has a nightmare that Weir survived the explosion and wakes up screaming in Cooper's arms as he and the rescue team try to calm her down.
  • No One Could Survive That: Uttered by Starck when Weir is blown through the breached window into space; Miller doubts it. Weir survives, and comes back a Cenobite Expy. They still arm themselves, just to be sure.
    • An alternative interpretation averts this. There's no evidence that it's the real Weir who comes back.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Miller. His Back Story explains why.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Peters chases a hallucination into a room that has a pit leading into the gravity drive chamber, completely lacking any guard rails to stop exactly this sort of thing from happening. Some of the horrific failures could be blamed on the ship being possessed, but the entity is never shown to have outright reconfigured the ship.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Subverted. Dr. Weir is a doctor of theoretical physics, but shows an amazing... grasp of surgery and anatomy later in the film.
    • This could be explained by his otherwordly demonic possession via the ship's influence though, which also enables him to use weapons and accurately fire them into specific directions whilst lacking any kind of eyes in the corresponding sockets.
  • Oh Crap: Smith gets one when he finds the misplaced explosive charge, seconds away from going off. He doesn't say anything, but his humiliated, terrified cringe speaks for itself. Cooper also has a few of them.
    Cooper: Why's this shit always gotta happen to me?!
    Cooper: (when the ship fills with blood) ...Oh, fuck me.
    • J.D. has obviously just had an Oh Crap moment when he comes to speak to Miller about the message in Latin; he's sweaty and nervous in a way that is extremely out of character for him.
    • Justin, after being released from his trance and realizing he has just trapped himself on the wrong side of a depressurizing airlock without a pressure suit.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Miller, but then this is a hallucination, and it's not even normal fire in that context.
  • Papa Wolf: Miller is very protective of his crew. See Punctuated Pounding below.
  • Phlebotinum Analogy: The "folding space."
  • Precision F-Strike:
    Miller: I have no intention of leaving her, Doctor. I will take the Lewis and Clark to a safe distance, and then I will launch TAC missiles at the Event Horizon until I'm satisfied she's vaporized. FUCK this ship.
  • Psychological Torment Zone: The Event Horizon acts as this in general.
  • Punctuated Pounding: "YOU! WON'T! TAKE! MY! CREW!"
  • Rain of Blood: Of the 'actually raining blood' variety, near the end of the movie. Very much like in the end of The Shining.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Captain Miller. His reaction to seeing what happened to the old crew? Aborting the mission, exiting post haste and blowing the ship into component particles.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: Solaris AS HORROR!
  • Redemption Equals Death:
    • Miller is haunted by the memory of the crewman he left behind to save himself (the ship exploits this to torture him). In the end, he saves what is left of his crew by sacrificing himself.
    • Alternatively, his redemption moment might be when Miller saves Starck from being sucked out the ship's broken window into space. If that was his redemption, then it's an instance of Must Make Amends, or My Greatest Second Chance.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The hallucination of Weir's wife, Claire, that keeps popping up. Notable in that her eyes are entirely red. The reason for that being that, like so, so many other people, her eyes are gouged out in the hallucination.
  • Room 101: Take a guess.
  • Rule of Cool: The Captain of the Event Horizon firmly believed Altum Videtur. After bidding farewell in English, he gave his sendoff in Latin; "Ave Atque Vale - Hail and farewell." The reason he spoke Latin in "the tape" is because, well, Altum Videtur.
    • Of course, another reason why the captain was shown speaking Latin is so that the audience would know it was him on the tape.
  • Sanity Slippage: When you touch "the beyond."
  • Say My Name: Weir screams Miller's name repeatedly, just before he gets sucked out the breached window.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: "We're leaving."
  • Self Destructive Charge: Leading to Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Send In The Search Team: The crew of the Lewis and Clark are sent to find survivors and salvage what they can from the Event Horizon.
  • Sequel Hook: What happens when the drive section of the Event Horizon returns?
    • 38,000 years later...
    • Even the writers probably couldn't figure out why anyone wouldn't destroy the Event Horizon on sight.
      • Especially since Cooper, Justin, and Starck presumably tell their story.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Possibly the darkest example in cinema. When Weir starts his rampage, his first act is to blow up the Lewis and Clark. Cooper survives on a piece of wreckage, but is blown clear. He blows his air supply to try to return, but we don't see him again until much later.
  • Shout-Out: The Burning Man, to The Stars My Destination. The working title of the movie during filming was even The Stars My Destination.
  • Showing Off The Perilous Power Source: In the Engine Room of Doom.
  • Smart People Know Latin: The use of Latin by the captain in the Apocalyptic Log seems to be there partly to suggest what an educated guy he is.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The end credits features the techno song "Funky Shit."
  • Space Is Cold: Averted; since the ship is in the upper atmosphere of Neptune, the cold is only natural. It is also definitely pressurized when they first arrive; life support's just been offline for quite some time, so the ship has naturally gotten extremely cold.
  • Spikes Of Doom: In the DVD commentary, the director states that the spikes in the gravitational drive room were originally intended to engage with the core, but this wasn't possible due to budget constraints. They were left in due to the Rule of Scary.
  • Staggered Zoom
  • Take Me Instead: Captain Miller offers himself in exchange for his crew to the possessed Dr. Weir, who responds, "No. There is no escape. The gateway is open, and you're all coming with me!"
  • Take My Hand: When Miller saves Starck from being sucked out the ship's broken window into space.
  • Take Our Word for It: Averted. First we see people watching the horrifying slaughter of the original Event Horizon crew... then a significant chunk of the video ( the part where Captain Kilpack has torn his own eyes out and is holding them up to the camera) is shown to the audience.
    Miller: We're leaving.
  • Technology Marches On: Averted. Though the prop for the ship's log is a CD, in-universe it could be the cheap circular medium of 2047. Also, the visual displays are flat and feature touch-screens, some of which are wireless and portable.
  • Teleporter Accident
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: While averting Explosive Decompression, to a point. The blood vessels in Justin's eyes explosively decompress, as do his surface blood vessels, which is more or less correct behavior in vacuum (or Neptune's atmosphere's near vacuum at that altitude).
  • To Hell and Back: Hell is just a word, however. The reality is much, much worse.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Dr. Weir.
  • Uncle Tomfoolery: Cooper, all the damn time. "HERE I COME MOTHERFUCKEERRRS!" Used for Plucky Comic Relief and a foil to Captain Miller's dour seriousness.
  • Voice of the Legion: It's only for one line, but Dr. Weir's infamous "DO YOU SEE" uses this as an effect to emphasize his supernatural state.
  • Wham Line/Dropping the Bombshell: Courtesy of D.J.:
    ...I thought it said Libera te me. "Save me." But it's not "me". It's "Libera te tutemet." "Save yourself." And it gets worse... I think...that says "ex inferis". "Save yourself from Hell."
  • What, Exactly, Is His Job?: Other characters joke about this with Cooper. He states that he's the ship's "Rescue Technician." Subverted in that he manages to pull Justin out trouble early on.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Justin is a subversion: after he is saved from tossing himself out an airlock he is put into stasis and is not referred to again. However, at the very end the rescue crew remarks that he has survived along with Cooper and Starck.
  • When Things Spin, Science Happens: Used and averted. On one hand, the gravitational drive is always spinning due to magnets. Averted in that the real science happens when it stops.
  • Where Da White Women At?: Cooper.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Poor Weir; the Event Horizon is working on him before they even arrive.

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