“No, you got horror in my science fiction!”
Hey, why not have both? When it comes to cinema, mixing beloved genres doesn’t always end well. However, one combination that always seems to be a natural in filmmaking is that of sci-fi and horror. Both genres seem made for each other, the movie equivalent of adding peanut butter to chocolate. One of my favorite trysts of the spooky and futuristic varieties is Event Horizon, the oft-overlooked masterpiece from Paul W.S. Anderson.
It is 2047, and the crew of the rescue vessel Lewis & Clark are dispatched to the edge of the solar system in response to a beacon received from the Event Horizon. Having disappeared several years earlier on its maiden voyage to Proxima Centauri, the Horizon was long thought lost, prompting confusion over its sudden reappearance in a decaying Neptunian orbit. Upon reaching the ghostly vessel, the crew of the Lewis & Clark are confronted with the aftermath of a massacre. To make matters worse, disturbing accidents make it clear that they won’t be leaving as quickly as planned. As details of the ship’s horrifying maiden journey are revealed, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether the Clark and its crew will even be able to save themselves.
Event Horizon is a quintessential 90s cult film. A critical and commercial failure upon its 1997 release, time has been far kinder to Event Horizon than the movie going public were. In retrospect, it’s kind of a wonder that contemporary audiences didn’t recognize this title for the gem that it really is. The character of Captain Miller (Lawrence Fishburne) burns with the theatrical intensity that Fishburne would use to great effect in the later Matrix films, and Sam Neill plays the duplicitous Dr. William Weir with such giddy energy that you almost want to root for him. Although the film doesn’t shy away from using jump scares, it relies more on its disturbing atmosphere to elicit dread. It’s obvious that Paul Anderson and the visual artists for this film had a clear understanding of what makes space truly frightening. The grotesque, lifelike qualities of the Horizon contrast with the stark and gargantuan loneliness of space. Much like Alien almost 20 years before, this film proffers a vision of space that is neither romantic nor noble, it simply is. Indifferent to the feelings and struggles of humans, this is a final frontier that offers little reason for hope.
Looking for quality horror with a heavy dose of sci-fi added in? Look no further. A definite recommendation.