I first watched EVENT HORIZON back in 1998, right after its VHS debut. Sick with the flu, I rented a handful of films and sat myself down on the couch for a day of coughing, hacking, and, hopefully, entertainment. EVENT HORIZON was the first cassette I popped into my trusty VCR that morning and, as a 12-year-old, I felt traumatized when it was over. My experience with horror, at that point, was limited to a handful of Vincent Price films and a few episodes of MonsterVision, so I had never really seen anything with gore before. It was a shock to my system that caused me to hide under my blanket for the rest of the day, only to recant my harrowing experience to everyone at school the following week. 10 years and 2 home video formats later, I’ve just experienced EVENT HORIZON for the second time, on Blu-ray no less, and the only thing I have to say is, “This thing has a cult following? Really?”
In the year 2047, the EVENT HORIZON, one of the most technologically advanced spaceships ever built, has mysteriously reappeared after going missing for the last 7 years. The Lewis and Clark, helmed by Captain Miller (Lawrence Fishbourne), has been deployed to recover the vessel and discover where it went and what exactly happened. Along for the ride is his elite crew and the ship’s often pretentious designer, Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill). Once aboard the spacecraft, the crew members begin to have strange hallucinations and eventually come to the realization that when the EVENT HORIZON disappeared, it definitely didn’t go anywhere in our solar system.
Surprisingly, hack director Paul W.S. Anderson delivers a fairly solid first hour, with a creepy atmosphere in tow, even if it does seem a bit familiar and unoriginal. Anderson shows his love for Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror classic ALIEN by modeling the EVENT HORIZON after the Nostromo. Being the “haunted house” of the film, the ship becomes the most interesting character, by way of well-done set designs and its ability to exploit the fears of the Lewis and Clark’s crew. The leads are adequate when they aren’t chewing the scenery to pieces; however, the secondary cast is obviously nothing but cannon fodder from the get-go, so it’s hard to invest anything in them.
The third act is where EVENT HORIZON goes completely off the rails, much in the same way SUNSHINE did. It had this great, moody premise going for it and, instead of doing something interesting, writer Philip Eisner (who also wrote the legendary FIRESTARTER 2 and THE MUTANT CHRONICLES) decided to be lazy and turn the whole affair into a by-the-numbers slasher. The gore is plentiful but it feels tacked on and used for lack of a better idea.
Paramount’s Blu-ray boasts a 1080p transfer that is adequate at best. Colors are richer and details are crisper but there is a lot of grain throughout, especially during the dark, hazy scenes in the EVENT HORIZON. On top of that, there are also a few instances where artefacts become distracting. I can’t say this isn’t the best the film has ever looked but there could have been a lot more done to make it up to par with the rest of Paramount’s high-definition catalogue. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track follows in the transfer’s footsteps, being the best out there but not exactly great. There are, at least, two sequences where a significant decrease in the dialogue’s volume occurs, causing the character’s discussion to be somewhat inaudible. The ship’s sound effects seem distant from everything in the forefront of the scene, never really giving you the sense that you’re on the ship and in the middle of the action (which is what a lossless audio track is suppose to do). What’s most frustrating about this disc is that Paramount, who is usually great about mastering their bonus materials in 1080p, only provides a trailer in HD. Granted, they did port over all the extras from the 2-disc release (Paramount rarely gives any of their films a 2-disc release), but there are no HD exclusives, nor does the overall treatment of the disc ever feel like anything but a quick cash-in.
Commentary – Although Anderson and Bolt do mention a few things they don’t like about the film, the pair pat themselves on the back far more than they should have. Anderson gives a lot of insight into the production of EVENT HORIZON, going as far as to point out some of the changes made to the film after the first test screening, while Bolt comes off as childish, cracking jokes and reacting to the jump scares on-screen. For fans, it’s a perfectly acceptable track, even if its content overlaps quite a bit with the other supplementals on the disc.
The Making of Event Horizon (01:43:01) – Split into five parts (Into the Jaws of Darkness, The Body of the Beast, Liberate Tutume Ex Infernis, The Scale to Hell, and The Womb of Fear) and longer than the actual film, this making-of is basically an expanded version of the commentary that gets really in-depth about casting, the use of special effects and the cuts made to the film. Some of the cut scenes sound soul-crushingly gory, which makes me curious and slightly glad they didn’t make it into the final film at the same time. There is a lack of behind-the-scenes footage and most of the documentary is talking heads explaining things without giving any sort of visual representation of the topic at hand.
The Point of No Return: The Filming of Event Horizon (08:13) – All the behind-the-scenes footage was crammed in here, with Anderson narrating. It acts as a crash course in filmmaking, with the infamous director talking about the creative process behind several scenes.
Secrets (10:03) – Three deleted/extended scenes, with optional commentary by Anderson. The footage is of a lower quality of resolution, but it gives us a clue as to what EVENT HORIZON was like before the first round of cuts were made.
The Unseen Event Horizon (6:49) – A series of sketches and various pieces of concept art, a lot of it never making its way into any version of the film.