Friday, April 10, 2015

Event Horizon (1997)

With all these movies offering cautionary tales about the bad things that happen when you go into uncharted deep space in search of some abandoned space ship, I really think the astronauts of the future will have it pretty easy. When they're thinking about going out to some bum-fuck barren stretch of starry wasteland to rescue the no doubt alien-infested carcass of their lost ship...they'll probably reconsider. Especially with movies like this one as part of their space training curriculum.

Director: Paul Anderson
Starring: Sam Neill, Laurence Fishburne

Co-written with Michelle.

Event Horizon is from the pits of the 90s and made by the guy who did Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat, so you know it's good. It's a sort of splattershot mix of a low-rent Alien, a low-rent The Shining and gore from the Hellraiser series, put together with the craftsmanship of a guy with two broken hands trying to fix your porch.

The film starts off innocuously enough, with some incredibly boring opening credit scenes. Oh yeah, you really padded out the length of the film to make it look longer than it is!

The characters are kind of a mish-mash of various inoffensive stereotypes that, while they don't irritate me, do kinda come off like a checklist of the various types of people that have to be on every spaceship in the future – the obligatory super serious captain guy and of course one goofy comic relief guy, at least one woman who has some perfunctory emotional issues that cripple her ability to do her job and a mechanic guy who does nothing but talk about how horny he is.

I guess none of the characters are bad – they're mostly just bland, and so stock and predictable that it really feels like they were just thrown in there because this same set of characters HAS to be on every fucking space ship ever. The only differences between most of these characters is how many lines of soulless exposition they're allowed to spout out like a broken fountain.

Oh, yeah, you better believe there's a shitload of exposition in this movie. This whole thing is knee-fucking-deep in the kind of exposition you can only get from the thriller genre's awkward late-90s, early-2000s phase where there couldn't really be any fun or good cheer in these movies – only dramatic explanations of the plot. I get the idea that if Event Horizon tried to smile, it would crack into a million ceramic shards of its former self. Its idea of fun is probably reading help manuals for lawn mowers.

Okay, so I've said there's a lot of exposition. So what's the plot? They're going out to find this ship called Event Horizon which disappeared years ago, but now has come up again on their radars. Sam Neill's character tells them all of this when they get there, which takes a long time and is broken up by seemingly everyone else there interrupting him every other sentence. That's really all we get in terms of dialogue – people interrupting each other. It's almost like being at a really shitty Thanksgiving dinner, which is really something to strive for in your movie's dialogue!

Furthermore, why are they just now learning what the mission is? They really didn't know any of this shit before? Either the company they work for is just super anal-retentive about information, or they're just the kinds of people who hate asking questions before going billions of miles into space...either way, it's stupid. Oh, and apparently the government lied about what happened to this ship – amazing, a government lying about something? What kind of twists will this movie pull out next?

They find the ship instantly, and normally I'd be more complementary of them for completing their mission, buuuuut finding a ship ten times the size of yours isn't really THAT impressive. Should I make a Malaysian Airlines/CNN joke, or will that not make sense in a year or so?

"How did we lose this big-ass ship again?"
"Well, the navigator was preoccupied by sleeping with the hot chick who served the coffee at the space base, and..."

They get on the ship and it takes about five seconds before their young astronaut character finds a horrific abomination on all of mankind that threatens to kill them all:

"Maybe if we had painted this ship in other colors besides ominous blues and dark grays, we wouldn't have this problem."

Despite this, Neill acts indignant and whiny when the captain, played by Laurence Fishburne, tells him they're shutting down the room with that hellish otherworldly portal-machine thing in it and nobody else can go in there.

"Aw, what's the big deal? It's just an insane hell-portal to another dimension that could kill us all! You guys are buzzkills, man."

The characters aren't really very good in this, as the writing seems to think showing us the fact that they had relationships on Earth that they left behind is enough. Which really isn't a very inspired choice to make. Everyone who does something like this in a movie always leaves someone on Earth behind that they miss. You need more than just that. It's like saying, “yeah, her favorite color is blue,” and then going okay, that's good enough for character development!

But I do admire your penchant for putting boils on the legs of children:

And apparently Neill just has a fetish for his wife wearing red eyes, because that's what he sees in his visions.

As the movie goes on and more weird things happen, the characters start to distrust each other and show this through extended, overblown screaming matches, like they do in every other shitty movie. Guys, drama isn't created when you raise your voices high enough to lose them for the next 12 hours.

Later on, we get more “family drama” as the one lady who misses her son sees an illusion of him and tries to go to him – unfortunately for her, there's a giant hole in the floor for some unknown reason that she easily could have seen. Why is there a giant hole there? Space and stuff! Technology! Who cares! But seriously, she should have seen that shit. I don't know how good of a mother you are if you can't see giant gaping holes where you can fall to your death.

It's good that she's separated from her kid on this ship, because for one, apparently there are giant holes everywhere to fall into. And two, she can't see any of them. Awesome.

Meanwhile, Neill continues to act shifty, claiming he doesn't know what the deal with the ship was. Though later on, it's revealed that the ship went to Hell or something and that's why it disappeared. It also now has its own brain, or some shit like that. I'm glad it has its own brain and can think endlessly about taking people to Hell with it now, or whatever the story is; that's a relief. I was worried I was never gonna see that in a movie. Can it also play dead?

Neill's character goes crazy, murders a few people and stabs out his own eyes. He comes out looking like he got in a fight with a Gillette Blue blade.

It's like if a werewolf cut himself shaving.

Oh, and he can also show Fishburne some visions of his crewmates getting tortured in hell, because why not spoil the surprise, you asshole?

Hey, bucko, I didn't want to see the end of this. Now I won't be surprised when it happens!

He fights Fishburne and dies. Fishburne and the other survivors all shout a lot more while explosions go on, so you know it's serious. They find a way to get off the ship that they never considered before – by blowing up most of it and escaping in the one part of it that is conveniently safe and will allow them to do that!

And the remains of the ship get sucked into the anus of Neptune.

Wow. They could have done that when their crew was all still alive and before Neill went crazy, but I guess that wouldn't have been dramatic enough. Also there's no way to make sure the evil of the ship is really gone – you know, except for the fact that we mercifully got no sequels to this.

We end on a fake-out scare of the one lady waking up from sleep in the ship to rescuers coming in, only one of the rescuers turns out to be Neill with the scarred face again! Shock and awe!

"Surprise! I gotcha, didn't I?"

Except it's just a dream and the movie ends on the real rescuers comforting her. Kinda anticlimactic.

I used to like this pretty well, but after rewatching, it really just didn't hold up. The ideas are interesting – the whole cosmic occult thing is kinda cool, and the visuals aren't bad or anything. But in practice, there's just nothing interesting to this. There's a dump truck load of exposition, and then people start dying. It's Point A to Point B with very little deviation from the path and no real character or plot that isn't strictly generic and could have been made by anyone else.

It is better than other space-horror movies like Jason X or Hellraiser: Bloodline, though, which is a standard you can feel comfortable in when you lower your actual standards enough to buy this from the Walmart discount movie bin to watch while drunk off your ass.

Images copyright of their original owners; I own none of them.