At first glance, Event Horizon would appear to be a science fiction film through and through. It's set in the future, features spacecraft and the men and women who fly them, and is about a rescue mission to another spacecraft. Yet, before long, it's quickly obvious that Event Horizon is, in fact, a horror film set in space, and a surprisingly effective one at that. While not a masterpiece, it is a reasonably disturbing film.
Event Horizon opens in the mid 21st century, where man has attempted faster-than-light travel. The vessel built for this was the space ship the Event Horizon, and it contained at it's heart an artificial singularity, a miniature black hole if you will, that will open a door to another part of the universe. Upon first test of the engine, the ship disappeared, not to be heard from again. Seven years later, it reappears in orbit over Neptune and a rescue ship, the Lewis & Clark, is dispatched to determine if there are survivors, and what happened to the Event Horizon. Along for the ride is the ship's designer, Dr. Weir (Sam Neill), whos going through a strong trauma in his life after his wife has recently committed suicide. The crew of the Lewis & Clark, commanded by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), listen to Weir's explanation of what happened to the Event Horizon and then receive a transmission from the ship that is garbled but seems to suggest a not so pleasant fate for the crew. The Lewis & Clark crew dock with the Event Horizon and begin investigating the ghost ship, but find strange happenings occurring throughout, with different members of the crew seeing strange things: Miller sees a man he left for dead on an exploding vessel, medical officer Peters (Kathleen Quinland) sees her crippled son, and the ships engineer, Justin (Jack Noseworthy) looked into the singularity engine and is put into a state of shock and Weir begins seeing visions of his wife.
It quickly becomes apparent that the Event Horizon has been somewhere other than another part of the galaxy, and it has brought something back with it.
Event Horizon is not a groundbreaking entry in the horror genre, that's for sure. Many aspects on display have been utilized in countless other films. And yet, director Paul Anderson manages to give us the requisite chills and leave us on the edge of our seats. A primary element that helps the film is the Event Horizon itself. Designed with a very Gothic look in mind, the ship just looks and feels scary. It is place I can't imagine anyone ever being comfortable being in. The dark, empty hallways and rooms are menacing themselves, and that helps ratchet up the tension. Anderson also does a good job of crafting suspenseful scenes involving the character's visions. Almost every one of those sequences will leave you unsure of what you will see and that keeps the audience in a state of unease.
As the film progresses, there is an increase in make-up effects grusomeness, so I would agree that it makes it a difficult film to watch as it goes on. However, most everything in the last half-hour is payoff to the setup, so while it's not always pretty to watch, it makes it all the more effective.
Acting wise, Event Horizon is decent, but nobody will be well remembered for their work. Sam Neill is probably the most memorable as the slowly disintegrating Weir, tumbling to madness before our eyes. Laurence Fishbure is effective as the hard-nosed captain, and everyone else gets the job done.
A lot of people gave Event Horizon flack upon it's release, and again, it's not the most original horror film made, but it is one of the more disturbing I saw in the mid to late '90s, and I would give it a recommendation, just be careful watching it by yourself.