Viking Night: Event Horizon
By Bruce Hall
October 31, 2012
Event Horizon sticks to a proud film tradition of ironically named space vessels. It literally means - in fancy schmancy science talk - “the point of no return”. It’s less obvious than it could be, and in front of a better film, it might have made a better title. The eponymous ship was an experimental vessel on its way to another star system when it disappears with all hands, prompting a desperate rescue mission. This would be the Lewis and Clark, a ship named after two explorers who didn’t quite find what they were looking for, but learned a lot of painful life and death lessons.
Remember this at the end. Also remember that watching Event Horizon will teach you some lessons of your own, like how NOT to make a credible sci-fi horror movie.
The captain of the Lewis and Clark is a man named Miller (Laurence Fishburne), who treats his crew like family and his ship like his mother. In fact, every single one of the cast members are fresh from James Cameron’s Wisecracking Space Jockey Warehouse, wrapped in plastic with the tags still on. Sam Neill is William Weir, the Out of Place Scientist/Company Tool who designed the Event Horizon. He also pulls double duty as the Guy Who Can’t Get Over His Dead Wife. And you know that in the movies, nobody ever mentions their Dead Wife unless it’s going to turn out to be important. Rounding things out are Smith the Wisecracking Pilot (Sean Pertwee), Starck the Tough Chick (Joely Richardson), and Cooper the Wacky Black Stereotype (Richard T Jones).
Before you accuse me of hating, let me point out that when one of the first things you notice about a film is that it feels like spare parts from other, better films, that’s usually not a good thing.
Allow me to explain.
As the Lewis and Clark disembarks, the crew members bark at each other about how stupid their mission is because they don’t know WHAT it is, but they do know there’s no trouble in the sector where they’re going, even though they just said they didn’t know where they were going. The Captain snarls that they’re in the business of following orders, because they’re the best, and that’s how people who are the best at things roll. Yet even though this is a rescue mission, nobody bothers to ask Dr Weir where they’re going, what they’re doing, what to expect, or how many survivors there might be. That is, until they stir from cryogenic sleep three billion miles away, orbiting Neptune.
Yes. They wait until they are months away from any kind of supply or reinforcement to begin planning their daring deep space rescue mission for the first time. This allows us an excruciating scene where Sam Neill gets to give one of those “what I’m about to tell you is BEYOND top secret” speeches. And it’s so inanely derivative that it makes everything else in the movie up to that point feel like Shakespeare. Nonetheless, Weir explains that a mysterious signal was received from the Event Horizon, the first ship meant to travel faster than light, using something called a Black Hole drive. Don’t worry about what that is, just know that something called a Black Hole drive sounds dangerous because it is, and that it is not so much a propulsion system for the ship as it is for the movie.