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Film / Event Horizon

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

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

In the year 2047, a signal from the starship Event Horizon is picked up on Earth. The ship had disappeared without a trace beyond Neptune seven years earlier. 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. Strange noises echo throughout the ship, sensors indicate the presence of life forms even though the vessel is clearly deserted, and what few records the Lewis and Clark's team recover hint that something went terribly wrong... and that's just the beginning. Before long, the question is no longer what became of the Event Horizon, but what has the Event Horizon become?

Event Horizon is a Cosmic Horror Story which can be interpreted as an updated H. P. Lovecraft story, a Haunted House movie IN SPACE!, or, as some like to think of it, a very disturbing prequel to the Warhammer 40,000 series.note 

Not to be confused with Moral Event Horizon, Despair Event Horizon, or the term for the region around a black hole from which light can no longer escape (though the eponymous ship is clearly named after it). For the game that was heavily inspired by the film, see Dead Space.

Event Horizon contains examples of:

  • 13 Is Unlucky: The main airlock that the Lewis and Clark uses to dock with the Event Horizon is labelled with the Roman Numeral XIII or 13.
  • 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.
  • Actor Allusion: Damien probably would feel right at home in a starship heavily implied to have accessed Hell.
  • Agent Scully: Weir keeps trying to think up increasingly ridiculous explanations for the obviously supernatural goings-on aboard the Event Horizon, long after everyone else accepts that something weird is going on. Not played quite so straight later on, however: At some point Weir found out what was really happening the hard way, being corrupted or possessed by the force responsible for said goings on, but kept up the pretense for a while to try and keep the crew around so they could suffer the same fate. This comes to an abrupt end when the crew find the ship's log.
  • Alliterative Name: William Weir.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The very ending of the film. The meaning of the door closing behind the survivors and rescue party is unknown: it might mean that the chunk of the ship they are in has retained its evil conscience and thus the cycle is gonna start again, or maybe it only symbolizes the wordless trauma they have lived and that they will never get over it, as told by Starck's uninterrupted screaming at the end. In any case, not nice.
  • Antagonist Title: The ship is heavily implied to have become alive and demonic after passing through Hell (or some kind of hellish alternate dimension).
  • Apocalyptic Log: "Libera te tutemet ex inferis..." The final, decoded version of this log entry, which places those words into context, is one of the most (in)famous examples of this trope in cinema; it's even been referenced in South Park.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Discussed.
    • 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 happens in the movie.
      Smith: 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: Weir talks about how the drive uses focused gravitons, implying that it uses the immense gravity of the black hole in the core to bend space, or, more glibly, that the ship works by warp drive; his demonstrated metaphor works more like a wormhole; however, the events that actually transpire suggest it was some kind of hyperdrive.
    • While no human being has yet seen a black hole up close, we can be pretty sure that, should that ever happen, we wouldn't be able to stick our finger in one, pull out some black hole goo, get sucked in, and then thrown out again. However, even that may be more of a consciously discussed trope that's, at least partially, played with: Weir before he is possessed explicitly says that an opening of the gateway the way it happened is not physically possible, which might imply that, under normal operation, the physical principles of the containment are quite different.
      • Justin wasn't touching the black hole at the center of the gravity drive. He was touching the substance of Hell itself.
    • Played utterly and completely straight with the Lewis and Clark's ion-drive acceleration. While an ion drive is a very efficient way to move around large distances, they produce minimal acceleration (you're basically using individual atoms as reaction mass to propel a ship billions of times more massive). Their advantages are excellent fuel economy and continuous acceleration, their disadvantages are extremely low changes in velocity and direction over a given period of time. So there's no way an ion drive firing would generate any appreciable g-force, let alone enough to liquefy a person.
      • The Clark has what they call an ion drive that can generate extremely high acceleration. Maybe they are using the term to describe a different type of device?
    • The Event Horizon has a pressurized environment that might well be described as— enormous, from an oxygen consumption and CO₂ waste point of view. The popular conception is of the lunar missions which had a few cubic feet of atmosphere or the Nostromo shuttle which was several times larger but they were considering a many months long duration. The Event Horizon would be able to support people for weeks before it would be become an issue, let alone 20 hours or whatever.
    • Cooper using the air from his suit to rocket toward the Event Horizon might be possible, but it's incredibly unlikely he would manage to actually intersect the ship, and there's no explanation of how he managed to slow down. Possibly justified by what the ship is trying up to.
    • When Justin is ejected into outer space, his veins immediately start to burst and bleed heavily. This isn't very likely to happen in the short time that he is exposed to the vacuum of space. Parts of the body will probably start to bulge due to the lack of atmospheric pressure, and there will probably be some subcutaneous bleeding from ruptured blood vessels, but the human skin is thought to be resilient enough to stay intact. Also, the blood that leaves his body remains liquid; in reality, it would boil and evaporate instantly due to the lack of pressure. Not everything about the scene is unrealistic: the fact that he remained conscious is probably correct (most adults would remain conscious for 10-20 seconds), as well as the fact that he does not freeze (although deep space is extremely cold, the lack of gas molecules makes it difficult for body heat to leave the body).
  • Back from the Dead: "The ship brought me back. I told you she won't let me leave. She won't let anyone leave."
  • Bald of Evil: Weir, when he returns from getting sucked out of the ship.
  • Bath Suicide: Weir's wife, Claire, which constantly comes to haunt him.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: The final confrontation between Miller and the possessed Weir.
    • The alternate ending (which was cut) had Miller up against Corrick instead of Weir.
  • Big Bad: The Event Horizon itself has become an Eldritch Abomination that wants to drag more people, if not all of humanity, into Hell beyond the stars. Weir also becomes this, due to being possessed by the ship.
  • Big "NO!": Delivered by Weir when Miller activates the explosives, detaching the front of the ship and allowing the surviving crew to escape. Depending on how one interprets Weir as having become an extension of the ship's will, however, one can reasonably argue the Event Horizon itself delivered it.
    • Miller definitely has one while demonically possessed Weir shows him what will happen to his crew when the Event Horizon gets to Hell or the hellish dimension.
  • Big "OMG!": Miller gives an understated and rather appalled "Oh my god" after he sees Weir's self-inflicted Eye Scream.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Event Horizon is destroyed and its engine is sent to hyperspace, seemingly ending its menace for good. However, only three members of the crew survived and they will probably have nightmares for some time to come, if they ever recover from the experience. It turns into a Downer Ending, however, if going by the interpretation that whatever evil infected the ship is still present in their liferaft, so it's highly unlikely they will be returning to Earth... or if they do, they may even be bringing the evil with them. And that's not even delving into the possibility of the engine eventually returning from hyperspace.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: Wherever the Event Horizon went, the eyeless look seems to be in fashion. The eyeless phantasm of Claire entices Dr Weir to pull out his own eyes, seemingly luring whatever inhabits the ship to possess him.
    Claire: I have such wonderful, wonderful things to show you...
    • Dr Weir, having sewn shut his vacant eye sockets, seems practically unimpaired.
    Dr Weir: Where we're going, we won't need eyes to see.
  • 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 design is Hand Waved 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: Subverted. Cooper is the only crew member to have survived the events of the movie with their sanity relatively intact, and Captain Miller is the last of them to die in a spectacular Heroic Sacrifice. Cooper does get his death teased a few times but manages to survive them.
  • Came Back Wrong: The whole ship. Wherever it went the last seven years, it returned in a heavily dilapidated state, becoming an unnerving Ghost Ship. Weir, too.
    • The phantasms conjured by the ship invoke this; Dr Weir's eyeless wife Claire, serenely keen for him to join her in the "dimension of pure chaos", entices him to pull out his own eyes.
    • Peters's son Denny, while still alive back on Earth, appears on the ship with a severe exacerbation of his disability; lures the distraught Peters to her death, and, having done so, sports a singularly chilling Psychotic Smirk.
    • Eddy Corrick, whom Captain Miller was forced to leave to burn to death on the Goliath, appears as a burning, raging apparition.
  • 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) Looks like Skipper's got a case of the willies.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The explosive ship-cutting charges became plot-important - and more than once.
  • 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 title 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 very different...
  • Covered with Scars: When Weir comes Back from the Dead for the final showdown, he is bald, naked, and covered in freaky scars. It did give him his Creepy Blue 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. Played with even further in that by the end, Weir has become the villain.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Weir's leads to his crossing the Moral Event Horizoninvoked. (Sense a pattern?)
  • Distress Call: The Event Horizon sending one after having disappeared a long time ago is what kicks off the story. Except it was actually an incredibly garbled warning for people to stay the hell away from the ship. In fairness, the audio quality wasn't the best, even disregarding all the tortured screaming.
  • 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 of the possessed Weir showing up as the rescue crew try fruitlessly to calm her.
  • Double Entendre: Cooper, in a Shirtless Scene, offers Starck a cup of coffee.
    Cooper: Want something hot and black inside you?
    Starck flips him off
    Cooper: Is that an offer?
    Starck: It is not.
    Cooper: Well, how 'bout some coffee, then?
  • The Dragon: Weir becomes this to the Event Horizon after finally embracing the evil of the ship.
  • Dramatic Drop:
    • Peters does this upon seeing the restored Apocalyptic Log.
    • Also D.J. when he sees Justin seizing on the examination table.
  • Dramatic Thunder: 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. Or maybe it's just the ship fucking with their brainsinvoked?
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: The first image of the film is Weir's nightmarish vision of the ship.
  • Driven to Madness: Weir, after the ship continually shows him horrific visions of his wife and makes him relive his wife's suicide. Starck, in an interpetation of the film's ending. And of course, there was the Event Horizon's prior crew...
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Weir's wife in his backstory.
    • Justin tries to blow himself out an airlock after being sent through the singularity (it may also be a Psychic-Assisted Suicide caused by the ship). However when the airlock starts to depressurize causing him intense Ear Ache, he snaps out of his Heroic BSoD and realises where he is. Unfortunately because the outer hatch is starting to open, the crew can't open the inner hatch to let him out as it would decompress the entire ship.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: If he wasn't transported to the hell dimension, and instead perished in the explosion, Miller went out with a huge bang.
  • The Eeyore: D.J. Lampshaded by Miller, who refers to him as a "gloomy Gus."
  • Eldritch Abomination: It's unclear just what happened to the ship, but it's hinted pretty heavily that it brought 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. If not both being a single and/or networked, very bizarre Genius Loci. Who isn't very nice.
  • 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. Note 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 a 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 Gloating:
    Weir: Do you see? DO YOU SEE? DO YOU SEE?!
    Miller: Yes. I see.
  • 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.
  • 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 Publication: Produced in 1997, and set in 2047.
  • Eye Scream: This movie 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. This is because whatever's on the other side of the wormhole is so horrifying that some gouge out their own eyes to make the madness stop.
  • Eyeless Face: Due to the above.
    "Where we're going, we won't need eyes to see."
  • Eye Open: Close-up of William's eye.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When Smith finally finds the explosive charge planted by Weir, he pops up the lid of the device, only to find there are 6 seconds left until the explosion. He takes a second to compose himself, exhales, lowers his head, and... Fade to White. He's clearly scared out of his mind, but doesn't spend his final moments panicking.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Used extensively to indicate Weir's Sanity Slippage.
    "I am home."
  • 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. Her curves are on full display... and she's also covered in blood. Oh, and she's eyeless, too.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Event Horizon's purpose. Didn't go so well.
  • Fate Worse than Death: What awaits anyone entering hyperspace, and presumably what Miller will be suffering, unless he mercifully died by being caught in the explosion or sucked into the space through the destroyed tunnel.
  • A Father to His Men: Miller is very protective of his crew. See Punctuated Pounding below.
  • Fictional Flag: The crew's flag patches show an Australian flag with an aborigine flag rather than a Union Jack, to indicate Australia has broken its ties to Britain, an American flag with fifty-five stars and a European Union flag with thirty-two stars.
  • Flaying Alive: After being told about Weir's madness, D.J. gets a badass moment when he starts picking up scalpels and bonesaws and muttering that he will take care of him. Sadly, he doesn't have the chance to use them. They get used on him when he's ambushed by Weir, and when Miller finds him, he's been completely flayed, with his skin hanging on hooks above his body.
  • Fold the Page, Fold the Space: The ship's designer, William Weir (Sam Neill), demonstrates the "folding spacetime" concept with the centerfold page from a magazine.
  • Foreshadowing: Miller mentions that the last time a rescue was attempted near Neptune, both ships were lost. Both the Lewis and Clark and the Event Horizon end up lost in the end.
    • When Starck is scanning the Event Horizon for life-signs, it detects faint signals from all over the ship. It sounds like a convenient malfunction to get the crew to search the ship themselves, until a later revelation...
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Towards the end, Weir shows Miller gruesome visions of what is presumably a hell dimension, in which his crewmates are horrifically tortured and mutilated. These visions consist of very quick shots that are hard to see unless you pause at just the right moment.
    • Also applies to the restored message from the original crew of the Event Horizon. To an extent, this is a mercy.
    • If you check the time stamp on the beginning of the captain's log right before the Event Horizon initiated its first FTL gateway, and the time stamp on the later part of the log in which the original crew is going crazy, the gap between the two was apparently less than a minute. At the very least, less than a day, because both give the date as "1-23-2040". The bottom of the recording says "Time Ref", though it's not clear if this is the clock time, or just time in the recording - in which case it could just be the next thing recorded on that file a few hours later (it would probably have taken more than one minute for them to physically rip each other apart like that).
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Sort of. Weir wasn't exactly a nobody. The other crew members acknowledge he had been a highly accomplished and respected world-class physicist before the disappearance of the Event Horizon. But he was also the adult equivalent of the nerdy wimp with no physical combat capabilities whatsoever. Starck, early in the film, effortlessly subdues him with a submission hold. And he looks like a school boy wanting to cry after getting bullied. That all changes after his transformation into a Humanoid Abomination. He becomes the most powerful and immediate threat to the crew. And he doesn't hesitate to show it, like when he tossed Starck around like a ragdoll with his new power.
  • FTL Test Blunder: The eponymous Ghost Ship is discovered to have been testing an FTL drive when it disappeared. The trip seems to have taken them through a Hell-like dimension, and the entire crew were killed, though not before being driven insane first, and the ship itself corrupted.
  • FTL Travel Sickness: Exaggerated to levels of pure gorn. Event Horizon's space-folding drive caused the ship to travel through a hellish alternate dimension which drove the crew utterly insane and led them to slaughter each other in a both figurative and literal orgy of horrifically gory violence, and corrupted the ship itself.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Weir, after he is "resurrected" by the ship.
  • 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 is a space variant - a derelict found seven years after it was last seen or heard about.
  • 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 does this. Congrats: you totally managed to twist space-time into a pretzel and vanish from sight. Shame "instantaneous travel" wasn't the actual, primary result — leading to a time-delay in discovering just how very badly off the rails things went.
  • 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 the Lewis and Clark's destruction, Miller does a subdued version of this against the nearest wall.
  • Hellgate: To all intents and purposes, this is what the engine core (with its Dark Is Evil take on a spiked Stargate) is, alongside its stated objective of being an FTL Drive. The rest of the ship? Who knows: the atrium with welcome mat, perhaps? Flypaper? It's hard to say what.
  • 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.
  • Hidden Depths: Invoked, as the ship uses the memories and regrets that haunt the protagonists most deeply against them, to horrifying effect. Interestingly, of everyone, it is the rational, normal seeming Dr. Weir who proves the most susceptible to it, implying that the character was a touch more disturbed than he seemed to begin with.
    • When Weir is explaining the Event Horizon's gravity drive to the rescue crew, they are all obviously disinterested and utterly confused by the stream of Techno Babble... except for Lt. Starck, who is listening intently, implying she understands what he's talking about. Though it makes some sense, as she is the navigator for the ship.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Possessed Dr. Weir fires Miller's nailgun through the bridge's window in a reflexive attempt to kill Cooper outside. It instead shatters the glass, and he gets sucked into space.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Implied with Weir post resurrection. He gains a Voice of the Legion in some parts and is covered with ritualistic scars, hinting that it's the ship using his form to confront Miller.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Things went horribly wrong due to the ship "folding space"... and returning. 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. Weir describes it as a dimension of "pure chaos"—chaos as in a lack of normal natural order.
  • I Want My Jetpack: 2015 has come and gone without a single colony being established on the Moon.
  • It Is Beyond Saving: Miller and his crew appear to try and fix the ship as well as rescue any survivors. But after Miller's group begins to get picked off by the entity inhabiting the ship and they see the full distress call, Miller decides to throw in the towel, exit the ship and blast it to oblivion.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Yet another facet of the final log entry.
  • 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.
  • Improvised Weapon: The rivet guns (meant for repairing hull damage) used in the climax.
  • Indy Hat Roll: Miller does one when he's fleeing the manifestation of the Burning Man.
  • Inertial Dampening:
    • The rescue ship Lewis and Clark has an ion drive that produces 30 g's of acceleration, so the crew spends the trip sealed into fluid-filled pods to avoid becoming wall-gazpacho. This might also explain the interior of the Event Horizon when it returned.
      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.
    • Somewhat marred because none of the items on the table in the pod room slid to the floor or were crushed during the journey.
  • It Can Think: And it wants a new crew.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass: Dr. Weir has his moments, even before he loses it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • While he gets a bit snide in regard to the unaccountable phenomena, Dr. Weir is generally polite, softly-spoken, and, even when fanatically determined to further explore the ship, is genuinely saddened on finding the recently deceased Peters.
    • While at times brusquely hostile to unannounced passenger Dr. Weir, Captain Miller is firm but fair, and devoted to the safety of his crew, becoming the hero of the movie later on.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Miller’s reaction to the revelation of what really happened to the crew of the Event Horizon? “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 offer a dumbed-down explanation of the principles behind Event Horizon's FTL drive ... and he still winds up unleashing an avalanche of Technobabble.
      Miller: Layman's terms.
      Cooper: Fuck layman's terms, do you speak English?
    • In what is a very rare and easy to miss Funny Background Event in a movie very short on comic relief (Cooper aside), Starck's facial expression and posture in that scene do not change and suggest rapt attention, while all the other crew members are openly confused and/or bored, with Smith even sarcastically parodying Weir in a pantomime. It looks as if she, in contrast, has zero trouble following Weir's explanation. It's actually justified, with her seeming to be the ship's navigator, in addition to being the XO - judging by her activities and the fact that she brings up the impossibility of FTL, name-dropping relativity, so she seems to have some grasp on physics and mathematics (which she'd need if she were indeed the navigator).
  • Lethally Stupid: Justin walks into the engine room and sees a strange black gateway appear in the center of the gravity drive. What does he do? Attempt to reach into it. Likewise, when Peters sees a hallucination of her son, she wanders off to follow him, knowing full well that the ship is trying to mess with their heads. It gets her killed.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Peters has a son with some unspecified condition affecting his legs. So naturally, the ship uses this against her.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Dr. Weir's guilt over his wife's suicide and obsession with his work leading to said suicide is exploited by the ship to its full extent, making him the one it drives to outright turn against the crew.
  • 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.
  • 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 nothing, not even light, can escape. Ergo, once you're onboard the Event Horizon, you can't escape because it won't let you.
    • And for that matter, the Lewis and Clark, named after two of the more famous explorers of the American West. This ship's crew, however, ends up exploring much, much farther than they ever expected...
    • Weir's name is also meaningful given his psychology and history. Weirs or low-head dams are extremely dangerous to swimmers and people in small watercraft as they produce a strong hydraulic circulation that will essentially entrap someone and drown them.note  Given how trapped Weir is in his past and how he's still drowning in emotional trauma, it's a fitting name.
  • 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."
    • The ship seems to take a shine to taunting the characters with dead loved ones/former comrades, but Weir's nightmares are particularly recurrent/violent. It eventually drives him insane.
  • Monster from Beyond the Veil:
    • The Event Horizon itself, on its return from hyperspace.
    • The ship employs several, though most are arguably either hallucinations or phantoms reconstructed by the ship from their own minds.
  • More than Mind Control: The ship has this effect, especially on Justin.
  • Multinational Team: The crew of the Lewis And Clark represent three key nations, as evidenced by the flag insignias on their uniforms, though there are a few alterations from the present, due to the film’s future setting; the USA still exists as a nation, and seems to have picked up a few more states as there appear to be more stars on the flag’s blue canton. The British-accented crew members all sport a star-patterned flag reminiscent of the flag of the EU, suggesting that the UK is part of an overall United Europe (ironic in hindsight). Finally, Dr. Weir sports an altered Australian flag, still featuring the constellation of the Southern Cross, but with the Union Flag canton replaced with the flag of the Australian Aboriginal People.
  • My Greatest Failure: Miller leaving an ensign to burn in a spaceship fire. It's the core of his No One Gets Left Behind attitude.
  • Naked Nutter: The fate of the eponymous ship's crew has remained a mystery for most of the film. Towards the climax, the crew of the Lewis And Clark belatedly find a video log of what happened: as soon as they activated the gravity drive, everyone on board descended into violent madness and murdered each other in a variety of hideous ways - many of the perpetrators being undressed at the time. The final shot is of the blood-splattered captain sitting in front of the camera, stark naked and holding his own eyeballs in his outstretched hands.
  • Nightmare Sequence: At the end, Starck has a nightmare 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. They still arm themselves, just to be sure.
    • A heroic example happens after everyone assumes Cooper died in the explosion that took Lewis and Clark. He shows up a few scenes later to save the day.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Miller strongly believes in that - at least now. He was forced to leave one of his own men behind in the past, and it's haunted him ever since.
  • No OSHA Compliance: A room that has a pit leading into the gravity drive chamber, completely lacking any guard rails to stop anyone from falling in. 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.
  • Non Sequitur Environment: Dr Weir begins hallucinating and transitions seamlessly from the ship's drive room to his apartment... just in time to relive the moment his wife committed suicide.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Possibly subverted. Dr. Weir is a doctor of theoretical physics, but shows an amazing grasp of surgery and anatomy later in the film. This is most likely due to the Event Horizon possessing him as the 'surgery' was performed by an eyeless Weir and around/after this time he was also able to neck lift and throw people across a room with unnatural ease for someone with his build.
  • 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 as he lowers his head 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.
    • D.J. 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.
    • D.J. has another one when he turns around and ends up facing now-eyeless, possessed Dr. Weir.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Miller, but then this is a hallucination, and it's not even normal fire in that context.
  • Posthuman Nudism: The film unexpectedly concludes with Dr Weir being brought back from the dead as a Humanoid Abomination by the ship; along with being given powerful new abilities in this new form, he's also stark naked - the better to show off the fact that he's bald and covered in bloody rune-marks.
  • Powered by a Black Hole: The eponymous starship uses an artificial black hole drive to achieve faster-than-light travel.
  • 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. It makes your standard, everyday Troll look positively tame. It seems to exploit past grief and guilt: Miller's guilt over his crewman's death, Peters' guilt over her son, Weir's guilt over his wife.
  • Pulled from Your Day Off: The crew of the Lewis and Clark finds itself suddenly pulled from shore leave to undergo a top-secret rescue mission. Once they are finally told on-site that they are looking for the Event Horizon, a ship that was famously destroyed (which was actually a cover-up), they get quite understandably angry (imagine if someone pulled you off your vacation and ordered you to go rescue the Titanic).
  • Punctuated Pounding: "YOU! WON'T! TAKE! MY! CREW!"
  • Rain of Blood: Of the 'actually raining blood' variety, near the end of the movie.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Captain Miller. His reaction to seeing what happened to the old crewinvoked? Aborting the mission, exiting post-haste and blowing the ship into its component particles.
  • Recycled In SPACE:
    • A ghost ship story IN SPACE! A setting in the upper atmosphere of Neptune even allowed a dramatic lightning reveal fitting the theme.
    • Solaris as Horror. Also, according to IMDb, it was pitched as "The Shining in space."
    • By the climax, Sam Neill is basically reprising his role as Damian Thorn, but in outer space.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Miller is haunted by the memory of the crewman he left behind to save himself. In the end, he saves what is left of his crew by sacrificing himself.
  • 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 in this film, her eyes are gouged out in the hallucination.
  • Rule of Cool: The captain of the Event Horizon firmly believed in Gratuitous Latin. After bidding farewell in English, he gave his sendoff in Latin; "Ave Atque Vale—Hail and farewell."
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • The design of the Event Horizon draws inspiration from gothic architecture most commonly associated with old European churches and cathedrals. After the reveal of what lies beyond the portal, the religious connotations become much more appropriate in a perverse, twisted sense.
    • The Gravity Drive bears a striking resemblance to the descriptions of Ophanim: constantly rotating interlocking wheels covered in eyes (lights in this case), with the bright light it gives off when activating alluding to how they're occasionally depicted as being on fire. Like the above, any holy connotations become inverted when it's reveal what the Gravity Drive actually is.
  • 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.
  • Schmuck Bait:
  • Scientist vs. Soldier: The crew of the rescue vessel just wants to find out what happened to the missing science team and then plans to blow up the derelict ship after realizing it’s become a conduit for a Cosmic Horror Story villain. The scientist accompanying them wants to preserve the ship and study its paranormal effects, and quickly finds himself experiencing a dangerous Sanity Slippage.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: There is concern that the Event Horizon will "run out of air" (oxygen) within hours or there will build up a poisonous level of carbon dioxide. These are concerns that affect real spacecraft, perhaps most well known in the dramatic saga of Apollo 13. However, the Apollo craft interior were smaller than a small bathroom. The Horizon's interior is enormous, literally thousands of times bigger than Apollo's. Even the Clark's interior is hundreds of times bigger than Apollo's. The Clark's crew is only about three times that of the lunar missions. They would have had safe atmosphere for probably months on the Horizon and weeks on the Clark, not even considering that they had a supply of suits and the option for stasis.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Miller's immediate, extremely sensible response to seeing the last log entry:
    "We're leaving."
  • Self-Destructive Charge: The explosive charges are ultimately used by Miller during his Heroic Sacrifice, separating the crew compartment of Event Horizon from its engine.
  • 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 if (or when) the drive section of the Event Horizon returns?
  • Sex Is Evil: Let's just say it wasn't called a "Blood Orgy" for nothing. Porn actors were even hired to make it look all the more realisticinvoked.
  • 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 Used Future sets and the costumes of the film are influenced by those from Alien, not to mention that in this film the protagonists also respond to a distress call that turns out to be a warning.
    • The experimental FTL drive on the Event Horizon takes the ship to what Weir describes as "a realm of pure chaos and pure evil", and just being exposed to it at all drives you to murderous insanity and self-mutilation. Combine it with the Gothic influences in the ship's design and the use of Gratuitous Latin, and you can see why it's often joked the film is a pseudo-prequel to Warhammer 40,000.
    • The Burning Man, to The Stars My Destination. The working title of the movie during filming was even The Stars My Destination.
    • Cooper quipping "Ooh, it's time to play Spam in a can!" is a Shout-Out to The Right Stuff.
      (from The Right Stuff) Chuck Yeager: Anybody that goes up in the damn thing is gonna be Spam in a can.
    • "Where we're going, we won't need eyes to see."
    • The Shining: Towards the climax, Starck and Cooper encounter a torrent of blood that erupts from a tank of the gravity couch bay.
    • Dr. Weir, after being exposed to the other dimension and blown out into space, basically turns into a Cenobite, with his facial scare resembling those of Pinhead's. And before that, Weir's wife's statement of "I have such wonderful things to show you" before gouging out his eyes parallels Pinhead's "We have such sights to show you."
    • Twice in the film, Peters is tasked to attend to the ships' CO2 scrubbers. This is undoubtedly a callback to Kathleen Quinlan's role as Marilyn Lovell in Apollo 13, wherein CO2 filters were also kind of a big deal.
  • Showing Off the Perilous Power Source: In the Engine Room of Spinny Spiky Doom.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Given the liberties taken with physics above, the astronomy is surprisingly on-point. Neptune looks like Neptune should look; we see accurate depictions of Triton and Nereid, 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?).
    • When Justin attempts to space himself, Miller tells him to blow all the air out of his lungs. This is correct; attempting to hold your breath would cause the air to be violently sucked out of your body, causing severe damage to the respiratory system.
  • Slasher Smile: Possibly the most disturbing part of the Apocalyptic Log (and that says a lot) is Kilpack flashing one in front of the camera while holding up his own gouged-out eyes and uttering "Libera te tutemet ex inferis."
  • 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" by The Prodigy.
  • Space Isolation Horror: A rescue mission in deep space that runs into a ship that is not only vile in terms of following No OSHA Compliance, but also because it's become a literal demon from Hell.
  • 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.
  • Spiritual Successor: Arguably to The Black Hole. In fact, there are so many similarities that some people consider Event Horizon a remake of The Black Hole.
  • Staggered Zoom: Few of those are used for incoming Jump Scares
  • The Stoic: Miller, with a touch of Jerkass thrown in. It is enforced by his line of work as a commander of a search and rescue vessel - being calm and collected is pre-requested for the job.
  • Submersible Spaceship: The titular spaceship is adrift in the clouds of Neptune. It's said to be in a decaying orbit, but if it was that low in the atmosphere it must already have been operating in the equivalent of an ocean for some time.
  • Suicide Mission: Hinted at by Miller, who notes rescue missions as far out as Neptune usually end in a Total Party Kill.
  • Take Me Instead: Captain Miller offers himself in exchange for his crew. Unfortunately, "Weir" isn't in a negotiating mood.
    Weir: No. There is no escape. The gateway is open, and you're all coming with me!
  • Take My Hand!: When Miller saves a crew member from being sucked out the ship's broken window into space.
  • Teleporter Accident: The Event Horizon was supposed to travel to Alpha Centauri. Instead it wound up in Hell (or something very close to it) for about a decade and Came Back Wrong, with none of its crew making it out alive.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Defied. This is what Captain Miller wants to do to the Event Horizon upon finding out what the ship did to its crew, but Weir and the Event Horizon itself make sure he never gets the chance.
  • This Is Not a Floor: Peters is killed when the evil ship creates an illusion of a bridge across the gravity chamber floor, with her son on the other side, leading to Peters falling to her death.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: The self-inflicted one attempted by Justin is averted by his team rescuing him. Later it's played straight with possessed Dr. Weir breaking the window of the Event Horizon's bridge and getting sucked out.
  • To Hell and Back: Hell is just a word, however. The reality is much, much worse.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Averted, if not outright defied. Except when they're under the influence of the ship, in which case it's justified, the characters consistently make smart decisions (Miller for example immediately says "we're leaving" and notes that neither of the crew's mission objectives is still achievable after they watch the decoded log of the Event Horizon). It doesn't help.
  • Too Strange to Show: Again, it's much, much worse; so much worse that the place the Event Horizon ended up can't even be shown.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Dr. Weir, though "Touched By Shadows" might be more appropriate, here. Or "touched by Slaanesh", even.
  • 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. On the other hand, as a rescue technician, he's extremely competent and resourceful — the crew treat him like a Bunny-Ears Lawyer.
  • Unplanned Manual Detonation: Needing an escape vessel because their own ship was destroyed, the surviving crew of Lewis and Clark decide to detonate the charges in the connecting tunnel between the Event Horizon' habitation section and its drive section, which the ship was designed to do in order to use the front as a lifeboat. Before they can detonate them, however, they're attacked by visions of their dead friends that the Event Horizon is projecting into their minds and even a resurrected Dr. Weir. Captain Miller is trapped in the drive section and detonates the explosives manually, sacrificing himself to save his remaining crew.
  • Vertigo Effect: Used when Weir is trying to fix an electrical fault in the gravity drive and hears someone else crawling around nearby.
  • Voice of the Legion: It's only for one line, but Dr. Weir's infamous "DO YOU SEE" uses this as an effect.
  • The Watson: The Lewis and Clark crew need to get Weir to explain, in simple words, how the ship's FTL drive works, which of course allows him to explain it to the audience as well.
  • Wham Line:
    D.J.: ...I thought it said Liberate 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 Did You Expect When You Named It ____?: Naming your ship after the point in which escape from a black hole is theoretically impossible isn't the greatest of omens.
  • What, Exactly, Is His Job?: Other characters joke about this with Cooper. He states that he's the ship's "Rescue Technician."
  • When Things Spin, Science Happens: Used and inverted. On one hand, the gravitational drive is always spinning due to magnets in a tri-axis gyroscope. Inverted in that the real science happens when it stops.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Poor Weir.
  • Your Worst Memory: The psychological effects of the Event Horizon seem to involve this, subjecting them to visions of the most painful moments of their lives: a former shipmate burning alive for Captain Miller, and the suicide of his wife for Dr Weir.