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From Under A Rock: Event Horizon

June 6, 2018 | Posted by Michael Ornelas
Event Horizon
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From Under A Rock: Event Horizon  


Not every movie needs to be great to be enjoyable. This week’s is one that Michael feels that way about.

You only get one first time, and for some people, it comes later than it does for others. This particular column is about documenting the first viewing of a “classic” movie or TV show determined at the discretion of Aaron Hubbard and Michael Ornelas in alternation.

Last week Aaron chose Vertigo. This week Michael takes Aaron out from under the proverbial rock to show him Event Horizon.

Event Horizon
Released: August 15th, 1997
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Written by: Philip Eisner
Sam Neill as Dr. William Weir
Laurence Fishburne as Captain Miller
Joely Richardson as Lieutenant Starck
Jason Isaacs as D.J., Medical Doctor of the Lewis and Clark
Sean Pertwee as Smith, Pilot of the Lewis and Clark

Michael Ornelas: I watched this one a couple years back and despite its production difficulties (the rush-job that saw the entire post-production process get only 4 weeks, leading to unfinished/unrendered special effects in the final cut), I actually enjoyed it. It’s creepy and it reeks of the year it was made.

Aaron Hubbard: I don’t know if I really enjoyed the movie, but I was pretty fascinated by pretty much all of it. It’s way too interesting to be really bad, even though it was kind of threatening to get there.
Black Hole
The Efficacy of Eerie
Michael: While the movie’s plot meanders a bit, I felt that the entire duration of the film had a sense of creepiness to me, which I always like when mixed with the outer space setting. It reminds me a little bit of Sunshine. Anderson has stated that his original cut was 2 hours, 10 minutes, and Paramount cut it to 1 hour 35. With 35 minutes of story missing, I feel that what we get is hints of a better movie. It would have felt too long if it was too much longer, but I feel a better compromise could have been reached. I guess I just see this movie’s potential, even if the finished product left a lot to be desired.

Aaron: Potential is definitely a word that popped in my head a lot while watching this movie. This is the first Paul W.S. Anderson movie I’ve actually watched with any real scrutiny, and to be honest, I’m not impressed with the guy’s body of work (which mostly consists of the terrible Resident Evil franchise). But the story here was actually really cool, as you don’t usually get supernatural, demonic horror in a space setting. I almost feel like someone should remake this movie with a tighter script and a director who doesn’t suck.

Michael: It’s actually apt that I compared it to Sunshine, because that movie is basically what you just described (directed by Danny Boyle). I just wished stupid Paramount didn’t rush it (I can say that — I work for them).
Not Caring is… Not Always Bad?
Aaron: I knew this movie’s chances of being legitimately good was were pretty low as soon as Richard T. Jones opened his mouth to deliver dialogue. To say that Paul W.S. Anderson is “not an actor’s director” is virtually pointless, but I have to say that it’s kind of fascinating how little he seems to care about the performers in this movie. Every actor is putting forth effort and doing something interesting. Sometimes that’s bad (Jones), sometimes that’s good (Sam Neill is doing legitimately good, hammy work here), and sometimes it’s just bizarre (Fishburne). I was kind of agog at how little consistency there was to the acting, as if Anderson was just like “Say the lines however you want so I can get this shot,” which makes for a strikingly bizarre viewing experience if nothing else.

Michael: The performances all check different boxes, but they’re all varying types of hammy. To me, it gives it the late 90s campiness that puts this in the same category as the Matthew Broderick Godzilla movie (although this looks much worse since the effects are unfinished). Something about this time period is incredibly nostalgic for me and I’m inclined to like things from the era just because it takes me back. In the case of this film though, I don’t even think it’s that Anderson didn’t care. I haven’t seen any of his other movies, so I can’t speak to his track record, but for this project, it seems like everything was so rushed due to the studio pressuring them for an August release that it was hard to focus on any one aspect of production (since they were all happening at once).

Aaron: So it’s James Cameron’s fault, is what you’re saying. I’m fine with that (for context, this was rushed to compensate for Titanic being pushed back to a winter release, and we all know how that ruined any chance that movie had at success). I think you do have a point there, as Anderson has described the production as a nightmare and even though he’s talked about his original vision, he’s never wanted to go back to it. I also have to concur that this movie is very representative of its era; I like to describe it as the post-ID4, pre-Matrix era of action cinema, where everything was super cheesy in an attempt to be the next Independence Day before the Wachowskis figured out how to redefine it.
Gruesome Visuals
Michael: This movie pulled no punches in its visual representation of brutality and the grotesque. In 95 minutes, we see a guy’s eyes explode, we see what Sam Neill would look like as Heath Ledger’s Joker if his eyes were cut instead of his mouth, we see lots of eyes torn out, actually…there’s probably something to that. There’s also the flashes of deformed, tortured bodies…it’s disgusting. Some may say it’s a little much, but it gives this movie a distinct vision…even if there are no eyes to see it with.

Aaron: For me, this was the most fun and surprising part of the movie for me. I was really worried early on that this was going to be a low-rent version of Alien. The ships copy a lot of that aesthetic, and while some of that is understandable, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it. But then it goes into supernatural, hellish territory and gets excessively bloody and creepy. It starts like Alien, but ends like Carrie or The Exorcist and I dig that. I’m not the type of person who can do gore in every movie I see, but every once in a while, it’s a great treat. Which reminds me that you all should definitely see Upgrade, because it’s a nice bloody treat in the middle of Disney’s summer season.

Michael: Interesting. I was invited to see it last night but didn’t know what it was so I passed. Maybe I’ll check that out next week.

Aaron: How do I even start to rate this? It’s almost bad, but too compelling to actually be boring, dumb or cringeworthy. It’s just kind of sloppily put together thanks to a pretty poor director and a rushed schedule. I don’t think it’s good, but I enjoyed most of it? This movie would probably be best viewed with some alcohol, actually.


Michael: This is a hard one to rate, because I do like it, and I will watch it again some day…but it’s so clearly incomplete. The performances aren’t cohesive, the effects are unfinished…but it leaves an uneasy (in a good way) feeling in the pit of my stomach as I’m watching it, and that’s how I know it’s at least semi-effective horror. I’m going to go right down the middle here.


Aaron: Does the term “Not Bad Enough” seem like the best fit?

Michael: If you’re a “Glass Half Empty” kind of guy, haha. But I get you. It’s not bad enough to be “so bad it’s good”, but it’s not good either. To think what could have been. This had the makings of a solid B horror flick.

How do you feel about Event Horizon?

Next week:

Aaron: We’re going from a compelling middle of the road movie to what is, in my opinion, the best comedy of its decade. And maybe even the century, so far.
Hot Fuzz
Michael: I’m so excited for this. I adore Edgar Wright as a director, and I’m shocked I haven’t revisited this (I saw maybe 20 minutes of it once in high school and never went back to see it from the beginning).

Aaron: I was legitimately pissed when you explained how you missed seeing this, but dammit, we’re gonna Wright some wrongs.

Was Aaron’s pun right there stupid?

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The final score: review Average
The 411
Michael and I are precisely thumbs in the middle for Event Horizon. It's a strangely captivating movie that has an interesting mix of sci-fi horror and supernatural, demonic horror, and it has an interesting cast of talented actors. It's late 1990's cheese, to be sure. If you don't want to enjoy the movie, you'll find plenty of reasons not to, but if you are open-minded, willing to be entertained and possibly inebriated, you'll likely have a good time with this one.