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Monday, October 10, 2016

HubrisWeen 4, Day 5: Event Horizon (1997)

HubrisWeen is a 26-day blogging marathon where a seasonally-appropriate movie gets reviewed every day from October 6 to the 31st in alphabetical order. Click on the banner above this message to go to the central site and see what Checkpoint Telstar and the other participants are covering today.

Written by Philip Eisner
Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson

Laurence Fishburne:  Captain Miller
Sam Neill:  Dr. William Weir
Kathleen Quinlan:  Peters, Med Tech
Joely Richardson:  Lt. Starck
Jason Isaacs:  D. J.
Sean Pertwee:  Smith

Man, there sure are a lot of science fiction movies that pivot around someone doing science and then HORRIBLE CONSEQUENCES ENSUE. For every film that celebrates the idea that these science people might just be doing something of value there seem to be three dozen that exist solely to tell their audience not to tamper in God's domain. Which would make for some awesome after-school specials or classroom films, but considering how much Hollywood depends on science and technology for every step of their business model, you figure they could cool out once in a while and do a story about spaceships that don't wind up as open portals to Hell. Also, maybe you don't want to call your movie Event Horizon, because that's the term for the point at which a black hole's gravity pulls everything inside it. Or, to put it another way, where something sucks so hard nothing else matters.

I'd be remiss at the start of the review if I didn't mention the tabletop miniature wargame Warhammer 40,000, incidentally. It's been in existence since 1987 and (to avoid going into too much detail and boring the hell out of my readers who don't already know about the game) the setting has demons constantly trying to break out of their hell dimensions and into ours. Starships, when they jump into the Warp, punch holes in the fabric of reality through which Chaos Demons can travel. So, uh, now you know what this movie's going to be about. And it's possible that the film was designed to rip off an existing property popular with nerds (and virtually unknown outside a subset of tabletop minature wargamers), but to be fair the Warhammer universe has stolen bits of setting, background and characters from every fictional universe that wasn't nailed down. I should know. I used to play Tyranids, which were essentially the bug army from Starship Troopers with the xenomorphs from Aliens as infantry shock troops. There's an entire race of green-skinned space warriors called Orks. Various minatures for the game bear suspicious resemblances to the Colonial Marines from Aliens, trench troops from the first World War, and U.S. Marines in their dress blues. I'm barely scratching the surface of all the things Warhammer 40,000 has in its own setting that are strikingly similar to characters or settings from other intellectual property franchises, but what I'm saying is that science fiction nerds like to reference things that they like when they're creating works of their own, and while it would be nice to give Games Workshop a shout-out somewhere the legal department at Paramount probably nipped that in the bud, if anyone ever brought it up to them.

Look, they're PURPLE AND PINK, and that's completely different from anything else you might have been thinking of. They're GENESTEALERS, not ALIENS.

Okay, got that out of the way. Now it's time to watch the movie.

Man, the first thing I'm thinking when the credits roll is "This score is trying way, way too hard". Imagine someone trying to make the hip, late-90s version of the Doctor Who theme and you won't be far off. It doesn't help that there's a blue tunnel of space travel effects filling the screen and an actor named Pertwee either. Not a good sign, but opening credits are just opening credits, not entrails that I can read to figure out how the movie's going to go.

According to the film, 2015 was the date that the first Moonbase was built. Dang it, now we're in a present not as cool as this movie's retrofuture. At least there's time to start mining for whatever it is Mars has that we couldn't get from Earth by 2032. But the really important thing is that there's a manned exploration ship called the Event Horizon that was launched in 2040 and disappeared a little past the orbit of Neptune. Space travel being what it is, I bet the crew got real tired of each other by the time they got to that planet (it took the Voyager craft twelve years to make the same jaunt from Earth). Maybe someone just opened a window because they couldn't take the smell of feet any more.

Seven years later, the events of the narrative proper begin. Which means, I guess, that the Event Horizon really booked towards Neptune. Although I'm not sure what kind of exploration you could do if you were zipping past everything you were trying to explore. The first thing we get is a dream sequence on a ship where something's apparently gone very, very wrong--the lights are out, things like photographs and wristwatches are floating around in the ship's interior, and then a zoom to the mouth of a revolving screaming blood-soaked body in front of a cross-shaped window switches to Dr. William Weir waking up as his Future Alarm Clock beeps at him. He plucks a photograph off his bedroom wall and gets up to face the day. I'm not sure I'd want to shave with a straight razor in space, but he's a professional.

After his morning ablutions are completed Dr. Weir looks out the window and we get a hugely impressive shot of a space station rotating above the Earth; according to the IMDB this one effects shot took up a third of the film's budget. It was money exceptionally well spent, with the boxy frame of the station looking precisely like something that was never meant to deal with gravity and the scope (person at window to station to planet) established effortlessly. Weir is told to report to the Lewis & Clark, another ship, and then we get to see that space travel in this flick is more along the lines of Alien or Dark Star than, say, 2001:  A Space Odyssey. The captain and flight crew are wearing dingy olive drab clothing (with Laurence Fishburne rocking a leather jacket because he's the captain) and the cockpit is dingy metal with clacking plastic control keys and switches. Once the course is laid in and the ion drive countdown starts, everyone (flight crew included) strips down to their underwear and climbs into their liquid-filled accelration tubes because once the ship's ion drive starts up they'll be taking thirty times the normal gravitational force and that would squash an unprotected person like a bug. That also explains how the Event Horizon could have gotten to Neptune in under seven years, but it raises the question of how much exploration anyone's going to do at that speed again. It also raises the question of what happens to a crew member if they don't get to their tube in ten minutes, which does seem to be an awfully short time for everyone to climb into their artificial wombs and get protected from the acceleration surge.

Dr. Weir has another nightmare where he gets out of his tube prematurely and finds the woman from his photographs earlier (we learn her name is Claire) after wandering through the ship; she's missing her eyes and tells him she's waiting for him. Then he wakes up in his amniotic tank for real and gets ejected, to be notified that he's spent about two months "in stasis". The crew gets ready to do their Space Jobs and we get some characterization scraps for the various crew members (and, oh God, there's a sassy comic relief black dude filling in as the crew's Brooklyn Guy). There's a conference at the crew meeting room that looks like it was designed by committee (the table is a modified X shape so everyone can see everyone and turn to address each other while taking up the minimum of floor space). Also we learn that one crew member had to make this trip and leave her handicapped son back on Earth; her ex-husband has parenting time right now and she'll get him back over the summer. So there's another stock archetype for you, the Mom Whose Career Is Messing Up Her Family Life. We've also met The Kid and The Stern But Fair Captain earlier. More than one crew member is smoking around this table, which, not the smartest thing to do in a sealed environment.

Captain Sternbutfair introduces his crew; there's a "rescue technician" and a guy who gives his job as "trauma" (I'm assuming that means responding to it, not causing it). Dr. Weir starts out trying to ingratiate himself to the crew and gets told--at the same time as the audience--that the crew was supposed to be on leave, and that the last time there was any kind of a rescue operation this far away from Earth, both ships were destroyed. So Weir tells the crew that "U.S.A.C. Command" got a faint radio transmission from the Event Horizon, which everyone immediately takes as bullshit. Turns out the public story of what happened to the doomed ship (reactor critical, massive explosion, even bigger tax write-off for Weyland-Yutani) was false. The Event Horizon was a test for a faster-than-light propulsion system that punched a hole in reality, went through that hole, and punched another one elsewhere in order to traverse mind-boggling distances faster than even light could travel.

The expected authentic SF gibberish ensues, but the summary is this:  An artificially created black hole on the Event Horizon was used to blip the entire ship from one point to another one, light-years away, instantaneously. And yes, we do get the Brooklyn Guy asking for the explanation in English rather than Science Talk. Weir outs himself as the man who built the gravity drive when The Kid asks him how he knows all this stuff. Turns out the ship simply vanished seven years ago, and has now reappeared in Neptune's orbit. The original destination was Proxima Centauri, four and a half light-years away, which means that if it had made it to its destination and then exploded, it would have taken four and a half years for the distress signal to reach Earth. As it is, nobody on Earth knows what happened to the ship or where it went, which is why the Lewis & Clark was sent with its crew of seven (plus Dr. Weir) to investigate.

Oh, and just to sweeten the deal, the only signal that the Terran space agency got from the vanished ship was full of screaming and what the closed captioning on Netflix identifies as [Creature Roaring]. So we're getting a creature? Maybe? After processing the hell out of the signal, there's a mumbled male human voice in the midst of all the other shrieks and bellows but since this is a horror movie, it's speaking Latin. "Liberate me", which D. J. the Trauma expert helpfully converts to "save me" (in Latin, "liberate" is a four syllable word).

Well, on that happy note, it's time for the Lewis & Clark to meet up with the much larger vessel in the upper atmosphere of Neptune. In fact, the Neptunian clouds and storms are severe enough that nobody on the Lewis & Clark sees the ship they're looking for until they literally almost run into it. But with a little careful maneuvering they're ready to disembark onto the Event Horizon, with the scanners on the smaller ship helpfully pointing out that the reappeared ghost ship has functioning power, no artificial gravity, some small radiation leaks and no heating (which means everyone on board would need to be in a stasis tube to have survived their trip). The life-sign scanner is also picking up something vague and nonsensical--there's something alive on the ship, but either everywhere or nowhere. So it's time to suit up and check every room on the kilometer-long drifting wreck.

Well, everyone but Dr. Weir is going on the Event Horizon. He's staying on the bridge telling everyone where to go via radio contact until it's safe to bring him onto the other vessel, which makes a lot of sense. Three of the crew (the captain, the Kid, and the medical technician) suit up and go to the Event Horizon's airlock. The movie's realistic enough to tell the audience they've got magnetic boot soles so they can stick to the decks once the salvage and rescue crew is inside the ship, which I appreciate. And the hallway they enter is the same one from Dr. Weir's nightmare at the start of the film. The Event Horizon looks like it was designed for maximum ominousness; it's all dark metal and columns in contrast to the lived-in blue collar aesthetic of the Lewis & Clark. There's an okay jump scare when a loose glove collides with the captain's helmet in his peripheral vision. While the captain is in the medical bay (which has never been used) and the doctor's on the bridge, The Kid checks out the artificial black hole drive, which is separated from the main body of the ship via a fifty yard long corridor with rotating blade-like surfaces all around it. It looks like a carnival funhouse and a meat grinder had a kid, and is justified in the screenplay by mumbling something about magnetic fields.

The medicial technician sees a splash of blood on one of the control panels on the bridge, but doesn't notice the splattered remains of one or more people all over the bulkhead behind her (she's in the dark, looking at whatever her helmet flashlight can illuminate while we the viewer can take advantage of different camera angles and flashes of lightning from Neptune's stormy atmosphere). She gets directed to the ship's log by Dr. Weir and bumps into a dessicated eyeless corpse once she gets the DVD that might as well be labeled "EXPOSITION (DO NOT SHOW UNTIL REAL CRISIS BEGINS)". At the same time, down in the black hole drive chamber, everything is covered with black iron and spikes. The gravity drive is a faceted black iron sphere surrounded by three metal rings that revolve around it in three separate orbits. It looks like a Cenobite's executive desk toy more than anything science-fictional.

The gravity drive warms up and reveals a surface made of black liquid; because The Kid is in a horror movie, and also a Goddamned moron, he reaches out to touch it and gets sucked inside. Once he's pulled into the drive core a ripple of mediocre CGI lashes out and damages the Lewis & Clark. The crew has to get into space suits and go over to the Event Horizon, since a hull breach on board the salvage ship means everyone's going to die if they stay there. The frozen corpse on the bridge shatters into a thousand piece of red ice once it lands on the deck when the artificial gravity gets turned back on, which I wasn't expecting and did really appreciate.

The hits just keep on coming once everyone's on the Event Horizon:  There's enough breathable air to last them twenty hours, but after that it's largely over. They have no way to communicate with anyone on Earth, and even if they did nobody could launch a rescue mission in enough time to reach them. Oh, and the Lewis & Clark was damaged badly enough that repairs might not be possible in a mere twenty hours. And The Kid is catatonic in the medical bay in the wake of whatever happens to someone's mind when they've been sucked into an artificial black hole and spit out again. The Trauma guy can't make heads or tails of it, and Cooper the faux Brooklyn guy accurately describes what he saw (the solid core of the gravity drive turned into a liquid and spit The Kid out), but Dr. Weir tells him that's impossible. If the gravity drive core was liquid instead of solid, the gateway between worlds would have been open, and, well...I bet Cooper's right and Weir's wrong about what exactly is and is not possible.

The captain wants to turn the conversation / argument / yelling fest back to matters of immediate concern--what's going on, and what can be done about it? Weir's hypothesis is that "gravity waves" escaped from the drive when it was turned back on, and those waves made it look like The Kid disappeared (and also damaged the Lewis & Clark). Captain Miller wants to know what's in the core of the gravity drive, secret technology or not, because everyone on the ship needs to know what's going on with it or they could all die. Which leads to Weir, Miller and second-in-command Lieutenant Starck standing in the drive room--which is a sphere of black iron studded with spikes, like all space-travel technology would be, of course--looking at the three rings moving around the sphere in the center of the drive. Weir explains that when the three rings line up in sequence they make an artificial black hole that powers the ship's space-warping jumps. Despite Dr. Weir's protestations that the weird black hole generator that has been sitting in absolute zero for half a decade with no maintenance is safe, Captain Miller declares the drive room off-limits to everybody. Which is amazingly sensible. Without dialogue stating that Weir has examined the gravity drive for damage, I'm going to say even being in the same time zone as that thing probably causes chromosomal damage and banshee summoning.

Back in the medical lab, Peters the medical technician keeps hearing something moving around, but there's nothing out there. Being the rational, level-headed type, she grabs a bonesaw and goes looking for whatever's making the noise and eventually finds someone scratching at the walls of an opaque oxygen tent. It's a hallucination of her son, back on Earth without her, with horrific gaping sores all over his legs. D. J. the trauma specialist doesn't see him when he comes by to see what's up with Dr. Peters but does manage to scare the heck out of her when he grabs her shoulder.

As Smith the pilot comes back in after attempting repairs on the gaping wound in the Lewis & Clark's hull, Peters plays the final ship's log entry from the Event Horizon before it launched itself through a rupture in the fabric of normal space and time. The image and sound on the log recording go hazier than scrambled cable smut when the jump drive is engaged, but Peters says she can filter out the distortion and get a better look at what's in the recording. Seconds after the distorted images play, the ship's power gets drained and the gravity drive starts working again (although it's not doing anything that we didn't already see; the rings were spinning around it when The Kid was in the room, as well as when Weir, Miller and Starck were near it). Speaking of The Kid, he starts convulsing as soon as the core spins around. He gets lucid just enough to say "the dark is coming". Meanwhile, Dr. Weir crawls around the guts of the gravity drive's systems to see if anything's damaged. Why the hell didn't anyone do that earlier? It turns out that there's one single panel spitting out sparks and smoke, and that should probably be replaced while the Event Horizon is still under its manufacturers' warranty.

While Dr. Weir is farting around with the circuit panel, he hears a voice whispering his name ("Billy", not "Dr. Weir", because his hallucinations are more familiar than formal). Then all the lighted circuit panels on the walls, floor and ceiling of the drive control systems go out in an ominous shot taken from all the other times the darkness creeps up on someone in an artificially lit enviroment. While Dr. Weir, who is claustrophobic, is stuck in the darkness with a sporadically working flashlight he looks around for help and gets a hallucination of a woman with her eyes torn out (from his earlier nightmare), demanding that he stay with her for eternity.

While Dr. Weir's having his little breakdown, Captain Miller gets to experience his own hallucination of fear and shock--the coolant pool underneath the gravity drive catches on fire out of nowhere and a burning human form rises out of it. Laurence Fishburne has a great Determination Face when he looks at the burning man. When everyone gets back to the bridge to compare notes about what's going on, Miller declares that whatever he saw had to be real, while Peters says she saw her horribly wounded son (and Weir gaslights her, saying it had to be shock rather than CO2 poisoning that's making her--but not him or the captain--see things). The talks break down with Smith the pilot attacking Weir, and D.J. holding a scalpel to the pilot's throat to try and calm him down. I don't get it either, but eventually the fight stops and Smith goes out to do more repairs to the Lewis & Clark in lieu of punching more people.

Lieutenant Starck corners the captain in a hallway and tells him that there's a correlation between the life signs that her scanners are picking up and the hallucinations that everyone's having--somehow, it appears the ship itself is alive in some way after its journey to wherever it went and returned, and that the reactions are getting stronger the more often they occur. Starck's guess is that it's some kind of immune-system response to the humans that broke a hole in the hull and started walking around inside the Event Horizon. Captain Miller rejects this out of hand, because it sounds crazy.

Back in the med bay, The Kid wandered off from his diagnostic table and appears to have locked himself in a biohazard containment chamber. Dr. Peters goes looking for him and hears hammering from inside the biohazard room before all the light fixtures in the medical bay spit out sparks. She goes running for the bridge in a screaming panic and the other three people there see and hear something hammering at the bridge door, denting the steel with its bare fists. So if it's a hallucination, it's one that multiple people are experiencing at the same time. Weir walks to the door in a trance and tries to open it, but Starck puts him in an armlock and prevents him from doing that. When that doesn't work, the Hallucination-Causing Being goes after The Kid next, compelling him to go into an airlock sans spacesuit and open the outside door.

While Captain Miller (who, along with the Brooklyn Guy and Smith the pilot, is in a space suit supervising repairs) jets towards the airlock, The Kid intones "Did you hear it?" in a flat voice inside the airlock. He explains--sort of--that when he got sucked into the gravity drive he brought back something terrible "from the other place" as a passenger, and that's what has been causing the hallucinations. The Kid says he isn't going back to that place, and if the people begging him to open the door knew what he did about the other place, they'd let him fly off into space wearing his pajamas and die horribly. When he activates the outer door control the hazard siren gives him a blazing migraine and he looks around, wondering where he is and what's going on. He gets ejected from the airlock, bleeding from his eye sockets, spitting out blood and screaming (even in hard vacuum, which I won't accept even in a horror movie). Captain Miller launches himself at The Kid and tackles him, sending both of them back inside the airlock, which shuts and re-pressurizes after they get inside. At there's at least a chance at saving the poor sucker's life.

In the next crew conference, Peters gets told to make the ship's log understandable so she goes off to do that in the four hours remaining before the air is too saturated with carbon dioxide to breathe. Everyone else tries to puzzle out what The Kid meant about "the darkness inside me" and Weir doesn't think that means anything in particular. The "other place" that got mentioned? Well, it's probably where the ship wound up going when it traveled through the hole it punched in reality (and punched another one to get back out). Please refer to my earlier comments about Warhammer 40,000 to see what kind of place the Warp is going to wind up being.

Captain Miller gets another bout of auditory hallucinations, and he recognizes the voice that's calling to him--it's a crewman he wasn't able to save when a fire broke out on board the Goliath, a ship that was probably really big. Laurence Fishburne effortlessly establishes himself as the MVP of this film with the monologue he gives about seeing waves of liquid fire wash over his crewmate in zero gravity. It's all just tragic science-fictional back story, but Fishburne makes it into something real and painful without going into histrionics. And Miller is smart enough to realize that if the ship is making him see something he never mentioned to another living soul, it's using his own mind against him. And that must be the case for everyone else who has seen something.

Right after Miller confesses all this to D. J., the other man tells him that he screwed up the translation of the distorted and garbled distress call. It wasn't Latin for "save me", it was "save yourself" instead. And there's more of it that he couldn't understand earlier; the full phrase was "Liberate tutume ex infernis", or "Save yourself from hell". The crisis surgeon says it sounds like the ship traveled directly to Hell when it punched a hole in space for its inaugural jump through the Warp. Too bad the movie did such a rotten job setting up the extra syllables in that message, because right now it sounds like the screenwriter pulled it directly out of his ass. Miller asks D. J. if the doctor believes in all that superstitious mumbo-jumbo, and D. J. replies that the man who sent the message certainly does. Or, more accurately, did.

Some good news is delivered at this point, just for a change of pace. The Lewis & Clark is patched up and largely holding together; they'll be ready to leave in half an hour or so. But during that thirty minutes. Peters and Starck get the ship's log figured out and it looks like Reavers holding a Spring Break orgy and murderthon on the Event Horizon's bridge at the same time. There's something really unsettling about the captain holding his own eyes in his hands and smiling that goes down worse than everything else that got shown in little bursts of imagery. (Captain Miller proves he's the smartest man in the film when he gives the two word response "We're leaving," after watching the footage.) Dr. Weir says they haven't completed their mission, which was the save the crew and salvage the ship. Captain Miller points out that the Event Horizon's crew is all dead, the ship killed them, and they're aborting the mission. He's going further than that, though; when pressed by Dr. Weir about what he's going to do to salvage the missing science vessel, Captain Miller says he's going to fire "tac missiles" from a safe distance and blow the Event Horizon to pieces. Weir takes that badly and when he gets hostile towards Captain Miller, all the lights go out in the Event Horizon's hallway.

It's a power drain; the gravity drive is waking up again. Captain Miller says everyone's leaving, whether or not they've got all the files downloaded from the Event Horizon's data banks and tells Dr. Weir to get on the Lewis & Clark or walk home. The doctor smiles, steps back into the shadows in the corridor, and tells the captain he's already home. At the same time, Smith and Peters are pulling CO2 scrubbers out of the walls in the Event Horizon near the gravity drive and are fleeing, when the black hole / hell portal calls to Dr. Peters by showing her the son that's been left behind on Earth. She gets suckered into walking back to the gravity drive room, spiked walls and all, and dropping the bundle of air scrubbers that the Lewis & Clark needs in order to everyone to get home without asphyxiating. One short walk into a long maintenance tunnel above the gravity drive later, and the oxygen consumption ratio on the trip back home just got more wiggle room for the Lewis & Clark's crew.

Dr. Weir finds Dr. Peters' body in the coolant pool underneath the gravity drive and then finds himself back at home with Claire, the woman he's been seeing in his own visions. It turns out that he was so inattentive to Claire that she slit her wrists (using the same razor he was using to shave with at the start of the film, so he's had guilt and punishment on his mind for a long, long time). The hallucinations drive Dr. Weir to gouge out his own eyes, screaming as the gravity drive spins around behind him. The audience isn't privy to what happened to Weir after that but Smith sees him walking back to the Event Horizon (and, tellingly, we only see him from behind so his eyes could well be gone). He took an emergency explosive from the Event Horizon's main corridor and stuck it on the Lewis & Clark; when Smith finds it there's only half a dozen seconds to go on the timer. It's also one gigantic bomb, in that it blows four or five holes in the smaller ship from a single bomb. Cooper, outside and finishing up the last of the repairs to the hull, is also wiped out in the blast (which means that, whatever else the film's faults are, the comic relief black dude was the third one to die instead of the first).

Which means that everyone's genuinely rocket-fucked now. Cooper turns out to have survived the initial blast only to be launched out into space on a piece of debris; he vents his air tanks to propel himself back towards the Event Horizon. D. J. gets a heads-up from Captain Miller to watch out for Dr. Weir, only to get surprised by the sudden appearance of the very man, eyes torn out, and who has become a horror movie villain in that he's strong enough to lift the other man off the ground with one hand around the guy's throat. D. J. gets thrown around the medical bay for a while before Weir picks up a couple implements and goes to work on him. Miller charges to the rescue and gets there just in time to see the poor bastard hanging from the ceiling via hooks in his back, and with his abdominal cavity emptied out onto the table underneath him (Weir must work fast; that seems to have been performed in a matter of seconds).

Captain Miller grabs one of the bolt guns that Cooper used to rivet patch plates to the hull of the Lewis & Clark and goes hunting for Weir. Now that the power's out on the Event Horizon, all the rooms and corridors are dark and shadowy, lit dimly and frequently illuminated by lightning from the storms on Neptune (although in space, nobody should be able to hear thunder). Lieutenant Starck is out cold on the deck of the command bridge, and the captain wakes her up to go sneak away when Weir reveals he's in the captain's chair. He's planning to jump back into the Warp, and tells Captain Miller that they won't need eyes to see where he's taking them. He mentions "a dimension of pure chaos", and, yeah, there's the clearest and most obvious Warhammer reference so far.

Weir taps a couple of controls (without having to see them) and sets the gravity drive for a ten minute delay. His plan is to show Miller and Starck just what the Event Horizon saw and endured the last time it jumped into the Warp; he's interrupted by Cooper slamming into the front viewing port as a distraction. When he fires his bolt gun at Cooper, it blows the window out completely and vents the ship's atmosphere. Weir gets sucked out the window but Captain Miller grabs onto a cable and escapes the bridge; he braces the auto-sealing bulkhead door and pulls Lieutenant Starck into a corridor that still has air in it before the door shuts completely (and I got faked out; I was positive he'd wind up saving 45% of the lieutenant or so before she got bisected by the door but that didn't happen). They run for a safer spot and see a shadowy figure in one of the airlocks; it turns out to be Cooper, who has more lives than a cat at this point.

The gravity drive's kicking off in seven minutes, so Captain Miller hatches a desperate plan:  They can't shut the drive down from anywhere on the ship that still has air in it, so it's time to blow the explosive bolts in the corridor, use the front of the ship as a lifeboat, and stay in the stasis tanks until a rescue operation can be launched to pick up the surviving three people from the previous rescue operation. Christ knows what's going to happen to those unlucky crew members. Cooper sets off the emergency beacon while the stasis-tube fluid turns to blood and bursts free of the tank in a massive deluge that proves Paul W. S. Anderson really liked The Shining. With two minutes to go until the Chaos Gate is opened, the ship pulls out all the hallucinatory stops (or its powers increase to the point where it can make things real, I guess; it's not very clear). Captain Miller gets swatted into the gravity drive room and loses the detonator for the emergency release bolts in the main corridor. Turns out the hallucination of the burning crew member he couldn't save is Dr. Weir, snagged back onto the ship by the ship itself. He's got his eyes back, too, which is either a continuity error or a further glamour cast by the Event Horizon (or, most likely, a reflection of how much that makeup effect cost to apply each shooting day).

Weir uses a weaponized vision of the Lewis & Clark's crew members in Hell to distract Captain Miller, but with seconds to go the captain gets the remote back and blows the explosives, freeing Cooper and Starck but trapping himself in the drive chamber with the gravity device and the variant Pile Of Lacerations Dr. Weir action figure. The drive goes off and the back half of the ship gets sucked into a black hole or possibly falls into the Neptunian atmosphere. There's nothing left to do for Starck and Cooper but go into their stasis tubes and wait for a rescue.

After an indeterminate time the rescue crew from the next ship to make it to Neptune shows up to decant The Kid, Starck and Cooper from their tanks and we get a fakeout "it's not over" shock scare before the real ending, which might or might not be the real ending. Which is really too bad, because dropping the ball during the last 45 seconds of your movie is a way to make the previous hour and a half seem worse in retrospect.

Well, dang. I was expecting a horror-tinged science fiction movie and got one that was mostly horror with just enough SF to get the plot going and provide a big spooky spaceship for people to see horrible things and get killed (or not; it's pretty subversive to have the comic relief black character being the last man standing in the main cast). But overall there's nothing in this movie that hasn't been done elsewhere, and from the stock characters to the "torn from the pages of a tabletop war game" premise the entire project seems to be cherry-picked from the Used Movie Parts Store. All the sets on the Event Horizon are watered-down H. R. Giger, and the trauma inflicted on all the characters who don't make it to the end has been seen elsewhere too. Mostly what I can say about this movie is that it started with a letter I needed to use, it was available on Netflix, and I don't regret having watched it. But I also don't think I need to see it again; it's got zero repeat entertainment value.

What do you think, Space Neopet?

"I don't have any massive guilt in my past, so I've decided to hallucinate a Boston cream pie. Which is really more of a cake, honestly."


  1. Huge body horror component in this one as I recall.

  2. It looks like a Cenobite's executive desk toy more than anything science-fictional.

    Thank you for writing this sentence. It is intensely wonderful.

    1. I was going to say the exact same thing. "Cenobite's executive desk toy" is wonderful.

      This is a movie that really needs to be seen in a dimly lit, almost empty theater (which is how I first saw it). Cliched and even goofy it may be, but the visuals are simply spectacular on the big screen, looming over the audience.

  3. Yeah, seeing it on a little Netflix window probably wasn't as awe-inspiring as it would be on the big big screen. But nothing was going to help that script, or the fact that they stole the entire background premise from a tabletop wargame.

    1. Ah, but the Warhammer 40k setting is awesome, and this is probably the closest we'll ever get to 40k movie.

      I like to think that the crew left reality as soon as they entered the radius of the Event Horizon, and that everything that happens after that can be explained by the fact that they are already in Hell, or at least an annex of Hell. Even the rescue team was a Hell-inspired illusion. Because nothing can escape an event horizon (bump-tish)

  4. THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK also makes a pretty serviceable Warhammer 40K movie as well. It even has one of those stupidly inhospitable planets that humanity kept trying to colonize in the back story.

  5. Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about that--the bad guys were called "Necromongers", for crying out loud.