Space has often been described as the next frontier, the highest peaks of our mountains have been surveyed, and we have a good idea about what’s lurking at the deepest oceans. With the dwindling resources on earth, the race to explore and colonise space is ramping up, yet space is mysterious… it is a black void, where we know next to nothing about its actual contents. Yet despite this, humanity plunges on. The reasons for that (and the consequences) are carefully examined in the films that I will cover this week. The first is Paul W.S. Anderson’s directorial follow up of the Mortal Kombat, 1997’s Event Horizon.
It is the midpoint of the 21st century. Space Travel is finally a reality and with rapid scientific advancements, we have left our solar system. When the Event Horizon, a modern-day Mary Celeste, fitted with a prototype engine, makes a return. A nearby ship, the Lewis and Clark are sent to go check for survivors. But an eerily empty ship and some incomplete tapes are all that remains. The crew must piece together what happened and prevent what happened from repeating. Although, there are some who may not think that is a bad idea.
The crew mounting this rescue expedition is as star-studded as the expanding cosmos of Space. Sam Neill, practically fresh off Jurassic Park, plays Dr. William Weir, the recently widowed inventor of faster-than-light travel drive. Laurence Fishburne plays the leader of the expedition, Captain Miller. Even a young Jason Issacs makes an appearance (possibly doing some work experience before serving as Captain on the Federation’s Discovery). Each one has a great performance and manages to sell to the audience the unspeakable fear of the unknown that lies in the corridors of the ship while coming to reason with evils beyond their control and comprehension.
A lot of the finer touches are interesting as well. Jody Richardson’s Lt. Starck, a fellow native of the United Kingdom, sports a United European flag-patch. This may seem humorously out-of-date bearing the UK’s current political position. It still is evidence of an attention to detail and world-building. Fans of contemporary Sci-Fi may see similarities with the hit time and space exploration film Interstellar. Like that film, The Event Horizon is filled with then-contemporary C.G.I. effects, that don’t dominate the action but help enhance. Sequences like when the crew discovers the corridors filled with random debris, floating in a zero gravity like way help convey the notion that something is not right here. As well as the explanation of the mechanics of black-hole space travel is remarkably similar. All these and more showcase the attention and worldbuilding that fully inverses the audience into the story.
Alongside its technical prowess, Event Horizon is strong on its symbolic front. It offers a cautionary tale of mankind’s insatiable appetite for exploration and expansion. It elegantly also ties religious imagery and the notions of hell, both real and imagined. This includes an ample amount of body horror, blood, gore, a ton of mutilations and a healthy dose of paranoia. Combined with quick camera cuts and interesting visual sets help to unnerve as well as enthral.
Event Horizon is a film that manages to skillfully blend Horror, Action, and Science Fiction into an endearing and captivating hour and a half. A time that explores what a person is willing to do to satisfy their desires and curiosity and how susceptible the human mind is to the unknown and how it responds when standing face-to-face with it. It not only inspires a curiosity of the unfamiliar but abject terror at the thought of its answers.
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