Reviews: Event Horizon

Shock Value, but falls short of genuine terror

I tracked down a copy of this movie after reading a synopsis and finding it rather similar to a story I had in mind. I'd say I, on the whole, enjoyed Event Horizon. The pacing was all right—there were no extended slow periods, nether did the action go so fast as to be hard to keep up with the plot. Also, I felt that the script did a good job of delivering just the right amount of technological background about how the ships worked—the expositions were pretty well worked into the plot, and the parts where the science was glossed over actually advanced the story.

However, I didn't get a genuinely creepy vibe out of this movie. Sure, it was gory and visually shocking at times, but I didn't come out of it with a truly unsettled feeling, as I did with movies like The Ring and The Cell.

If it were up to me, I think this film would have been genuinely creepy if the directors had made two changes. First, let the question of whether the Event Horizon crew is alive hang around unresolved a bit longer—the movie Sunshine, by comparison, got a lot of millage out of a similar question.

Second—I felt that there was a lot of drama and fear lost by establishing that the ship absolutely went to hell and was definitely possessed. How much more frightening would it have been if there was ambiguity there, if the film toyed with the idea that Miller and Weir and the others were simply hallucinating, and never resolved the questions about waht happened to the ship? That, if it was done well, would have been truly memorable to me.

And, purely on an artistic note, I would have liked to see more exterior views of the two ships. Neptune made a helluva pretty background.

Outer space meets supernatural horror

My cousin brought this movie over to watch during one vacation, and I had no idea what to expect. A group of astronauts and a scientist explore an abandoned spaceship, and strange things start to happen...

I have to admit, some of the special effects and acting did not impress us. I distinctly remember the three of us laughing out loud at an early scene where it was supposed to look like the ship got hit and everyone was shaking in their seats from the impact. But even with some unintentional corniness, I was able to enjoy the story itself.

Basically, the spaceship is, or may be, sentient, having somehow developed a mind of its own, and messing with its inhabitants by showing them things from their past that scare them. Other times, it seems to possess people, and turn them against others. I realize this type of plot has been done before, but I personally had never seen a story that did it, and it had also never been done in an outer space setting before. Space is creepy in its own way. A house or even mansion may feel familiar, but a spaceship is something foreign to us. It doesn't feel like home, and the setting is cold, repelling, and intimidating. Throw in strange, unexplained events and a lot of disasters, and you have one unsettling atmosphere.

Then there's the character interactions. Not that this is what you would call a "character-driven" story, but when you have people being jerked around and manipulated by a supernaturally-intelligent spaceship, these people and their struggles need to be interesting. The crew here has enough personality to satisfy, and with the scientist's motives for bringing them to this place being rather questionable, it's hard to blame some of the crew members for flying off the handle at him. Tension is an important part of horror, and character-based tension handles that job well.

The reason for all the supernatural occurrences is left ambiguously explained, which I feel is for the best. No explanation could probably suffice for something like this, and any detailed one would likely come across as ridiculous. By leaving it open to the imagination and making you wonder, the movie manages to maintain its ability to be unsettling. Sometimes less is more, and I wish more storytellers would realize that.