Monday, November 9, 2009

Event Horizon

Event Horizon [1997] is hands down one of the scariest science fiction movies I've ever seen. Folks, it's actually downright uncomfortable to watch. I've seen it a few times and it is dark and filled with frightening intensity. I can't get enough of it though.

Just before Halloween came and went I tried to get this one up, but never finished. I went to the old At The Movies Archive to watch the video review of the film from the perspective of Roger Ebert and the late Gene Siskel. I recalled them not liking the film, but couldn't quite remember why. It turns out they loved the production values [and they are splendid] and didn't care much for what they considered to be an uneven story lacking rules within its world as Ebert put it. They felt it was weak on character development to boot. On the latter, they have a point. I won't deny it. It's hard to believe in the just twelve short years since this review, critic Gene Siskel has since passed away and critic Roger Ebert has been in considerable ill health for quite some time. Watching the review of the film I couldn't help but note how robust and healthy they looked and how things can change in a New York minute as they say. You know how I feel about the fragility of life, in this a perfectly good example why you need to be enjoying it.
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Getting back to Event Horizon, I actually don't judge it as harshly and I do understand the criticisms of the picture. Still, I loved it! I made The One To Be Pitied watch it with me once when I first purchased the DVD. She actually liked it too, but she likes fright films. Still, I always want to watch it again and often have trouble bringing myself to do it. Still, for the faithful readers out there I brought myself to watch it again. After all I had to bring you some clips from the film. It's one of those films you want to recommend to others, but in good conscience can't, for fear others might think you a psychotic loon. For what it is, it is damn good. It is chock full of suspense. As I began clipping I realized I loved nearly every frame of the picture. I spared you from the more grotesque moments but wanted to give you a sense of the haunting mood throughout the film.

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Director Paul W.S. Anderson doesn't get alot of credit for his movies. Perhaps he deserves the criticism as they are not always successful in their execution [no pun intended]. Anderson clearly has an affection for video games having been heavily involved with the Resident Evil [2002] franchise and before that serving up Mortal Kombat [1997]. AVP [Aliens Vs Predator] [2004] was a horrible realization within that franchise and a failure IMO. Still, I find myself drawn to a number of his films in particular the original Resident Evil, which he directed and its follow ups which he wrote and produced. They are genuinely guilty pleasures for me. Trust me, I realize there is little redeeming value to the fun. And he has a production credit on Pandorum [2009]. There aren't many filmmakers out there mixing scares with science fiction. So I'm not sure how to classify Anderson as a director. He's generally trashed by critics, but I'm not so willing and quick to write him off. There's a certain beauty to the horror in his pictures. His pictures certainly look terrific. Anderson has a firm grasp of the genre of science fiction horror and Event Horizon is a devilish gem. I think it's one of his best. Some would say that's not saying much, but I remain a steadfast defender, guilty as charged.

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I felt this Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill helmed space trip into the unknown was about as scary as they come. This is science fiction horror at its unnerving best. The general setup is fairly straightforward. A rescue mission [the Lewis And Clark] seeks to discover what happened to the Event Horizon, which has reappeared after being missing for seven years. In a nutshell, the vessel, using the gravity drive, has gone to another dimension [hell] and back. It has brought unimaginable horror back with it. Anderson has referenced Director Ridley Scott as an influence. There are certainly ship design elements throughout the film that pay tribute to the Nostromo from Alien. There are nods to a number of films I suppose. Hellraiser comes to mind. Still, these elements combined with Anderson's own concepts work beautifully. And whereby most folks never leave the haunted house, these poor folks can't escape with the now disabled Lewis & Clark. They are trapped! Despite the critics there is a logic that runs through the film and I certainly didn't find any of it frustrating, just frightening.

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Apart from the technically impressive film assembled by Anderson, a stellar cast was also employed. I would even go so far as to say the cast works brilliantly in much the same way the ensemble worked for The Thing. Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Sam Neill, Richard T. Jones, Laurence Fishburne and more make it electric. I don't care what the critics say about this film, but I will continue to champion its cause. It has an atmosphere and feel all its own. I have not seen many films quite like this one or executed with such confidence. It may have been critically maligned much like The Thing was upon its release back in the day, but Event Horizon has all of the right ingredients that make it infinitely re-watchable like The Thing. It's a production stunner on an effects and lighting level once again paying tribute to the creative team behind this one.

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It's simply exceptional in its execution and fusion of both science fiction and horror elements. The special effects are perfect, but the idea of the ship being a living extension of hell is horrifying as delivered by Anderson. It is truly scary stuff. When the previous crew is found to have been the victims of their own self-mutilation and torture you know things aren't going to go well. This sci-fi thriller really delivers and remains a favorite of mine today despite my inability to stomach repeat viewings. In fact, it's this kind of Rated R picture that really makes you appreciate the lost art of the Rated R picture. So many pictures are dumbed down for appeal to the PG-13 masses and for the money coffers often compromising the director's vision. Granted, there are some PG-13 exceptions [I Am Legend]. Event Horizon delivers. Director Anderson allegedly had additional footage left on the editing room floor. I wonder what it might have added to an already disturbing experience. I want to say I wish it was here on the Blu-Ray, but then again on second thought.

Event Horizon: A

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