Event Horizon, 1997.
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.
Starring Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Richard T. Jones, Jason Isaacs, Sean Pertwee, Jack Noseworthy and Noah Huntley.
A missing spaceship, the Event Horizon, has mysteriously reappeared after seven years. A rescue crew go to search for survivors and to find out from where, exactly, has the ship returned.
It’s been about a week and a half since I watched Event Horizon. There’s still the occasional, terrifying flashback from it whenever I close my eyes. Some of the images must have been seared onto the backs of my eyelids. Google has not yet revealed the names of any group support sessions to treat this.
Sci-Fi and Horror make good bedfellows. Alien, Frankenstein, War of the Worlds – there’s a rich tradition there. Event Horizon is scarier than them all. It gets inside you – its cold darkness – and hides in the shadows in the corners of your room.
The Event Horizon is a ship – a hell of a ship, like a Vulcan Bird of Prey – that went missing seven years ago. The interior looks almost gothic, as though the circuit boards that adorn its walls are some ancient language from a long dead civilization. And spikes. There are so many spikes. Its mission was to test a new gravity drive, able to create a black hole that would pull together two points in space-time like a wormhole.
“What’s the shortest distance between two points?” asks Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill), the Event Horizon’s designer, indicating the opposite corners on a page. “A straight line,” a member of the crew replies, drawing a diagonal line across the paper. Weir smiles knowingly as he folds the paper to make the two points touch, creating a singularity. That’s what the Event Horizon did seven years ago. And it’s only just reappeared.
Weir is part of a rescue crew on the Lewis and Clark, a ship lead by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne). The rest of the team are characterised by their roles – Lieutenant, pilot, medic, engineer – but endearingly so. They’re a grizzled bunch and are loyal to their Captain. Weir was forced upon them, and he has that weird obsession for the gravity drive that only slightly mad scientists can. His enthusiasm isolates him from the others. They don’t want to be on this rescue mission. They’d much prefer to be at home with their loved ones. And besides, there’s something just so creepily mysterious about the Event Horizon. Like some old tale folks would tell to scare kids.
The crew board this tired spaceship, where objects float around in zero gravity like the tumbleweeds in a Western. The Event Horizon’s crew are nowhere to be seen; only this damned ship. There are signs of bloodshed on the walls – graphic, inventive bloodshed. You aren’t allowed to look at it for long. The film wants to keep it in your peripherals, encouraging you to constantly ask, “did I just see that?”
The characters start to ask the same question. They experience vivid hallucinations of nightmares past. An old friend who he had to leave dying in a fire haunts Miller. Weir keeps seeing his dead wife with missing eyes. She urges him to join her, and in his oddly obsessive state, he does.
Because seven years ago, the Event Horizon’s first gravity drive experiment worked, but the realm to which they travelled is unknown. The mutterings Miller hears on an old audio log sound like piercing violins at first. Further analysis reveals it as someone saying ‘save me’ in Latin. Or maybe it was ‘save yourself’. From where has the Event Horizon returned? Was it from within our own Universe, our own dimension? Could the place the ship visited have been from beyond our plane of existence? From Hell?
Searching through the ship’s computers, they find a video log of the Event Horizon’s crew from wherever they had been. It’s just over a minute long, but it seems to last an eternity. These poor, damned souls mutilate themselves and each other in a chaotic orgy. The cuts are quick and the camera shaky, so, like before, you’re never quite sure of what you’ve seen. Perhaps it’s denial.
Remember making a Ouija board as a kid? Excitement and fear in equal measure, both overridden by a morbid fascination. The Event Horizon’s video log forces all those emotions to the surface. But they’re worse. The repulsion is so overwhelming it paralyses your eyes. Two bloodied figures rip organs out of each other. One man vomits an entire arm from his mouth like a magician producing handkerchiefs from his sleeve. The worst, though, are their carnal expressions. A few are in ecstasy. Others are transfixed in a state of carnage. It is one of the scariest scenes in cinema.
It’s been about a week and a half since I watched it. I still can’t shake those occasional, terrifying flashbacks from whenever I close my eyes.
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