vent Horizon" stars Sam Neill ("Jurassic
Park 3") as Dr. Weir, a troubled scientist who, along with the salvage
crew of Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), are sent to salvage an experimental
ship called the Event Horizon that had gone missing years earlier. As the ship's
designer, Weir's presence is crucial to the recovery of the vessel, which has
suddenly reappeared near Neptune. But what starts out as a salvage operation
becomes a race for survival, as it's discovered that the Event Horizon's last
crew was slaughtered by the ship, which now has new victims to play with.
You would be hardpressed to call "Horizon" a
horror film. Even though the movie makes some attempts to scare with cheap Boo
Scares, as well as a lot of blood and guts, it's just not a very scary film.
Maybe I've just seen too many horror films, but much of the horror elements of
"Horizon" come across as half-hearted. The movie actually works better
as a straight sci-fi film about a ship that has gain sentience as well as the
ability to read the inner thoughts of its crew, and is using those secrets to
kill them. If that sounds familiar, it may be that the general thrust of
"Horizon" was also used in Michael Crichton's "Sphere" and,
to an extent, the George Clooney film "Solaris".
Before you can scratch your head at the oddball
construction of the ship, "Horizon" quickly shifts into gore
territory, with the ship picking off Miller's crew one by one. First to go is
young Justin (Jack Noseworthy), who is the first to encounter the Event
Horizon's pièce de résistance -- its "gravity drive", Weir's
invention that can bend space-time and create a black hole that allows the ship
to travel long distances. It is this ability that sent the ship to another
dimension and where it has returned from, complete with sinister personality and
Although Laurence Fishburne ("The
Matrix") is good as the stern Captain Miller, characterization is not
what "Horizon" is about. We know just enough about the different
characters for the ship to effectively play games with them, stalk them like a
cheap psycho in a mask, and then kill them. The real star of "Horizon"
is the set design of the ship itself. The look and feel of the ship defies
practicality, but then again what about sci-fi movies nowadays don't? Actually,
the chamber that holds the gravity drive looks more like a medieval torture
chamber than a high-tech engine room. The rest of the ship also looks good,
especially the colorful vent-like rooms inside the gravity drive chamber.
Don't expect to be scared with "Event Horizon",
unless you're the type to get scared easily. The film has a somber and dark
mood, but some of its dialogue defies its attempts at horror. Most guilty is
Richard T. Jones ("Phone
Booth") as a braggart member of Miller's crew. In more than one
sequence where the mood should have been filled with dread and gloom, Jones'
Cooper utters some "attitude-inspired" lines that just kills the
atmosphere. Here, Philip Eisner's screenplay fails itself. Of the rest of the
cast, I would have liked to know, and see, more of Starck (Joely Richardson),
Miller's second in command, but alas that was not to be.
For a big-budget Hollywood movie, "Event Horizon"
is supposed to look good, and that it achieves with some flair. Director Paul
Anderson, in my opinion, has never achieved greatness in his movies. With films
and "Mortal Kombat", there's always a prevailing sense that he knows
what he's doing, but never a feeling that he's gone beyond just good, competent
work. But as the visually pleasing nature of "Event Horizon" can
attest to, Anderson seems to have the ability to defy his current "just
good enough" state, although he has yet to show this ability in practice.