A Haunted House in Space: Event Horizon

Infinite Space. Infinite Terror.

Jason Jeffords Jr on Event Horizon.

Let’s start with a haiku:

I adore horror. I love the emotion, fear Being scared is great

Don’t judge me on that opening, it’s been years since I tried my hand at any poetry. However, do trust me on this next sentiment; it may get a little weird from here on out. Just look at my next paragraph and you’ll totally understand!

I’m always on the search for something that will fucking terrify me: I want to shit my pants in fear. By the end of the movie, I want to be a stain on the chair. A bubbling mess (more so than usual). Horror is one of my favorite genres, hell I once told a friend my favorite emotion is fear because when you think about it it almost feels like all emotions combined. It’s such a unique and amazing emotion and I love to feel it, and I love seeing others feel it. Does that sound like DC Comics’ Jonathan Crane A.K.A. Scarecrow? Yes, it does. Did my friend totally call me weird and tell me not to say that? Again, yes. Nonetheless, there are many other things that make me weird. Like wanting to be so scared I can’t control my bodily functions. Honestly? Not many pieces of media have made me feel that way. However one has gotten close and quickly became one of my favorite films.

1997’s Event Horizon.

Let’s have a quick backstory of me and some horror films. I absolutely love The Thing, The Lighthouse, In The Mouth of Madness, and Alien, among others. I adore space horror, and I go crazy for Cosmic Horror. To go on a quick side note for some readers unaware: Cosmic Horror doesn’t “have” to be cosmic as in the vast universe in space, or creatures in it. Instead, in this case, it’s used more as unknown or something our mind just can’t really understand. In Cosmic Horror, you’ll find less blood and guts, and more, “what the fuck is going on”, and what even is that thing? Plainly put Cosmic Horror is fear of the unknown (especially if there is an entity behind it), The Endless (a phenomenal movie) is one such example, and so is The Lighthouse. This genre actually got its origins from H.P. Lovecraft due to the style and substance of some of his stories, and sometimes even gets called Lovecraftian. Now back to our regularly scheduled program. I go out of my way to find media that involves these, and always crave for more to be made. I have indulged in all matters of media that can be seen as must never watch films: Faces of Death, A Serbian Film, and Cannibal Holocaust, just to name a few. However, those did nothing for me, whereas after one time of watching Event Horizon I couldn’t get enough. I was like an animal with rabies, just uncontrollable, wanting more and more to feast upon. Event Horizon was my new drug.

Sam Niel in Event Horizon (1997) | Paramount Pictures

First off, Event Horizon is a cosmic haunted house in space. I swear either a friend told me that, or I read it online, and since then it has stuck in my brain. That’s because it’s absolutely true! The spaceship (literally the Event Horizon) is a haunted house. Haunted houses are always interesting, because, how the hell do you defeat a house? That’s terrifying, they’re insanely powerful, and most times you can’t escape, especially in space. Nonetheless, another huge factor is: the crew is not stupid. A problem with horror is you can’t have your characters “too” smart or else it’s hard to make the movie. If your character is smart and knows weird shit is happening, they’ll just leave. The thing is Capt. Miller (Laurence Fishburne) (The Matrix, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse), the captain of the ship even says this! One of the most famous scenes in Event Horizon happens after Miller and the crew realizes what’s going on and without a beat, Miller declares “We’re Leaving.” He doesn’t need time to think, or anything, the decision is so fast and seems so uncommon that it takes you by surprise. He saw the threat and figured out the crew’s best option was to leave. That rarely happens in horror.

I may have got a little excited and ahead of myself. So let’s take a breather while I give you a brief behind-the-scenes crew list and summary of Event Horizon. The phenomenal movie we are talking about was directed by Paul W. S. Anderson (Resident Evil, Monster Hunter), written by Philip Eisner (First writing credit, his most recent is Sweet Girl), edited by Martin Hunter, Adrian Biddle as Cinematography and with music by Michael Kamen. Finally, Paramount released this beast into theaters on 15 August 1997.

Laurence Fishburne in Event Horizon (1997) | Paramount Pictures

Now onto the actual summary! Our main (haunted) spaceship, the Event Horizon disappeared after testing out its gravity drive that bends space-time making it instantly appear in its destination. Now, I’m no scientist, but the manner that Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) the creator and designer of the Event Horizon explains this is pretty easy to grasp. Nonetheless, when the Event Horizon reappeared with a distress signal they send the Lewis and Clark rescue vessel with Capt. Miller, second-in-command Lt. Starck (Joely Richardson), pilot Smith (Sean Pertwee), medical technician Peters (Kathleen Quinlan), engineer Ensign Justin (Jack Noseworthy), doctor D.J. (Jason Isaacs), and rescue technician Cooper (Richard T. Jones). However, as you expected it to, shit hits the fan, and it hits it hard.

One of the greatest parts of Event Horizon’s horror is actually only on screen for less than a minute. It turns out that when the Event Horizon went through space-time it actually went through hell. The crew of the Lewis and Clark are able to view what happened on the ship via a small monitor. In this quick video, we see the previous crew of the Event Horizon doing unspeakable things to one another naked. Following this is the amazing part with Capt. Miller, I explained earlier. Although brief this scene is fucking phenomenal and terrifying, although an extended version would be awesome, that may take a part away from the terror. However, there was a longer version of it, but some of it had to be cut down and sadly the footage was lost. However recently there was a rumor that a copy of that footage was found, but Director Paul W. S. Anderson hasn’t had a chance to watch this found footage. Ending this section I have two fun side notes: a lot of the plot works great as a Warhammer 40k prelude and a fair amount of people say it could be canon, I have yet to delve into this universe (I do want to) so I can’t confirm this. For the hell scene, they had real-life amputees, and pornstars play the crew, due to the nature of what transpires.

Event Horizon (1997) | Paramount Pictures

But after all this, and the point of this piece, why do I love Event Horizon? Well, this majestic film captures everything I love in horror. Smart characters, a haunted house, unspeakable/cosmic horror, gore, nudity, psychological terror, images that stick with you, and taking place in one of my favorite settings (especially for horror) space. Meaning it takes literally everything I love and makes a film that is phenomenal. It’s hard to recommend to others as it’s the type of film, you either love or hate.

Through my years of searching, I’ve barely found another piece of media like Event Horizon it seriously is in its own weight class. Some have come close; to name a few, Pandorum, Dead Space, Nameless (the comic) and In The Mouth of Madness (even though it’s not in space), however, none has ever made me need to change my pants. Event Horizon is one of the only media that made me want to shit my pants.

By Jason Jeffords Jr

Jason may not be good at making bios, but they sure can survive the frozen crime-ridden tundra and believes that they're semi-okay at writing about things they enjoy. Wanna see more of their word massacres? Check out their Twitter - @JJRwrites

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