Event Horizon

It probably wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Event Horizon is one of the most influential horror movies of the past 30 years. It’s a movie that has stood the test of time better than most, and continues to shock 23 years post release. The concept of horror in space isn’t really one it defined, but it’s certainly one that sticks out.

Following films like Alien, The Thing, and Predator, we had pretty well explored the concept of THE THING FROM BEYOND. So how does Event Horizon establish its antagonist? Simple: The man-made ship and it’s custom gravity drive are the baddies. But how can a shape and an engine be evil, you ask, like a fool. How does the gravity drive work? Simple: It collapses space onto itself and passes through it to travel faster than light. But that poses a question: What does it pass through exactly? What exists outside the realm of light?

The answer is deceptively simple. Darkness exists in the absence of light, and the root of all evil is found in the darkness between gravity anchors generated by the drive. You could call it “Hell” or similar, but it’s a far more nebulous concept than something that can be defined. It’s simply a place that exists outside the understanding of humankind, which is absurdly Lovecraftian and radical. To quote the primary antagonist, “Where were going, we won’t need eyes to see.” Which is one of the sickest quotes EVER.

This also serves to establish an interest in the story beyond having a physical opponent like Alien, and poses a ton of philosophical questions that people still discuss today. It’s a bit like The Thing in that sense, as both films leave a lot of questions unanswered on purpose to titillate.

But if the gravity drive exists on the ship, then that serves as the de facto antagonist, as the ship is a physical thing that can be dealt with instead of the metaphysical gravity drive. But if you are stranded on a ship in the middle of space you can’t just up and destroy the thing without taking yourself and others out. This conflict of self is the driving force for the protagonist against the antagonists.

In terms of story structure, it’s fairly straight-forward as a hero tale. There are plenty of side characters, but the tale really follows Captain Miller as he attempts to save his crew and destroy the Event Horizon. This came out in 1997, so a straightforward story is pretty expected for horror films. It wasn’t until Scream that we started seeing really meta explorations.

There are some drawbacks, again primarily just due to when the film was produced. The sound design in some segments can be really wacky, and the corny comic sound effects don’t really enhance the feeling of terror. This really takes hold in the climax of the film and really detracts from the overall experience in my opinion. The other major problem is absolutely the CG in use. CG tends to not age as well as practical effects, but most of the effects in Event Horizon are brutally bad by today’s standards. It’s perhaps the part of the movie that has aged most poorly.

Still, this is a fantastic movie and if you are a horror fan, or even just wanting to dip your toes into the genre, this is an excellent pick. I have never regretted watching it as many times as I have over the years, so hopefully you can get some mileage out of it as well.

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