Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Event Horizon

Event Horizon is unlike any other Sci-Fi film I know. The premise is that a new kind of spaceship (the Event Horizon) which can travel massive distances in an instant (because of an experimental gravity drive), has been missing for years and then suddenly re-appears in the orbit of Neptune. A search and rescue ship is sent out to find out what happened to the Event Horizon. It turns out that it has been to another dimension (not a nice one), all the crew are dead, and now the crew of the rescue ship (the Lewis and Clark) are becoming victims of whatever life-force is now aboard the ship.

I say that it is unlike any other Sci-Fi film (except perhaps Sunshine?), as there is no alien or monster, just a very sinister presence on the ship that preys on the worst fears/nightmares of the crew; leading to some very tense moments. The horror is very psychological. I remember the first time I saw this at the cinema being terrified as Justin is trapped in the airlock without a suit; suddenly the evil leaves him, he becomes himself again and realises the imminent danger he is in. I thought the look of terror on his face and imagining what is about to happen was horrible, and an image that has really stuck with me over the years.

Added to this are lots of spikey ways to die in the engine room; some unusual deaths, a possessed Sam Neil (definitely NOT the lovely character he plays in Jurassic Park!); and some rapid, flashed up images of people ripping each other apart. It really is quite a horrific film, but a very good one.

WARNING! Only click this link if you don't mind seeing gross pictures! You have been warned.

The cast are very good. The two main leads are Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) and Dr Weir (Sam Neill). Both are very accomplished actors, and Fishburne in particular has a real presence on screen. He really seems to command the scenes that he is in, in the same way that he does in The Matrix. Jason Isaacs is very intense and plays the role of DJ, the medical officer, brilliantly. A little bit of comic relief is provided by the pilot Smith (Sean Pertwee), and Cooper (Richard T. Jones). The characters all work very well together and act like you imagine a crew on a ship would do.

Director Paul Anderson (of future AVP fame/infamy) does very well creating a claustrophobic atmosphere that really cranks up the tension. Along with cinematographer Adrian Biddle, Anderson creates some very dramatic shots. There’s a great shot near the beginning as the camera zooms out from Dr Weir to show how large the low-earth orbit space-station is. There is also a pan around the Lewis and Clark before closing in on Smith in the cockpit which is very slick (very reminiscent of Serenity, but not as good). There is also a nice homage to Alien as Kathleen Quinlan’s hand reaches up from the top of a ladder; very Ripley.

The only thing that isn’t so good are the CG at the beginning of the film as we move around the Event Horizon; as there is no gravity there are various objects floating round: a book, a watch, a bottle etc. These are all computer generated, but don’t look great. The thing is, none of this impacts on the story, and there are no other bad special effects throughout the film, so it really doesn’t matter too much.

Overall I think this is a great film, though very scary. The reason I re-visited it is because I had recently watched two episodes of Dr Who: The impossible Planet, and the Satan Pit. The tension and a lot of the ideas of The Impossible Planet are straight out of Event Horizon; though Event Horizon is far more horrible. Great cast, great production and a great idea that the worst evil is the evil inside us! Far better than having an unrealistic alien.