Those who have seen Paul WS Anderson's sci-fi/horror thriller Event Horizon (1997) seem to be either lovahs or hatas- I've never met anyone who feels merely ambivalent about it. Clearly, I'm a lovah and I don't understand why the people who dislike this film seem to have a major hate-on for it. Could it be because Event Horizon doesn't make much sense?
Bah! Sense, shmensh, I say. This movie is nothing more than a haunted house film set in space, and I think it should be treated as such, despite all the scientific, astrophysics-flavored mumbo-jumbo.
In the year 2040, the deep space research vessel Event Horizon vanished whilst doing its thing out beyond Neptune. Seven years later, she reappears and a rescue ship, the Lewis & Clark, is sent to investigate. The crew arrives to find little more than a ghost ship. As they attempt to figure out what exactly happened on board the Event Horizon, the Lewis & Clark crew are subjected to horrifying visions that play on their darkest fears and deepest secrets.
Dr Weir (Sam Neill), the scientist who designed the Event Horizon, explains that he invented a gravity drive that will bend the space-time continuum, allowing the ship to jump through a dimensional gateway, traveling anywhere in the known universe- and beyond!- seemingly faster than the speed of light. Or something like that. Like I said, sense, shmense! Just sit back, say to yourself "Oh, so the Event Horizon entered a black hole, traveled through Hell, and came back sort of alive and mean! Neat...and spooky!", and enjoy the ride. The ship fucks with people's heads, Dr Weir flips out, people die, there's blood, there's big explosions, there's some genuine scares, the end. Don't get all hung up on the deets and you'll do fine.
The crew members are the standard stock "crew members" you've seen in every movie where there's...a crew: the no-nonsense commander who won't leave a man behind, the cuckoo visionary scientist, the eager young go-getter, the wisecracking jokester, the tough working man who's there only for the paycheck. Though the speech does fall into the realm of corny action-flick dialogue, the caliber of the actors involved- Neill, Laurence Fishburne, Joely Richardson, and Sean Pertwee among others- save it from becoming completely laughable. I'll admit, the film does fall victim to dreaded "unfunny comic relief" sequences from time to time, but what works in Event Horizon really works, so I feel forgiving towards it.
So what really works? Well, this is one scary flick. Anderson frames scenes tightly, creating an oppressive, claustrophobic atmosphere, and he's not afraid to use darkness for maximum effect. Lights are constantly extinguished, leaving characters stranded with a headlamp or a flashlight- if they're lucky. Make things dark, let us know there are things- eeeevil things- lurking in the dark, and we'll be scared, I promise. Additionally, the audio and video logs left behind by the Event Horizon's long-dead crew are downright disturbing. They're mere glimpses of gory madness, but that's enough to tell you what kind of fate awaits the crew from the Lewis & Clark- and it ain't pretty.
Obviously, Event Horizon has its faults- numerous faults. Just keep telling yourself: it's only a movie...it's only a movie...and so I won't get hung up on things like "logistics" and "plot holes"...I'll just turn off the lights, turn off my brain, and git skeered. In space, no one can hear your complaints!