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EVENT HORIZON
Blu-ray Edition

Film review by Gordon Justesen
Technical specs by Michael Jacobson

Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson
Director: Paul Anderson
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 95 Minutes
Release Date: December 30, 2008

“Vacate! I want off this ship!”

“You can’t leave. SHE WON’T LET YOU.”

Film ***1/2

My initial theatrical experience of Event Horizon is one of the most unforgettable ones I’ve ever had. I went in expecting an ordinary sci-fi thriller on the level of Aliens. I expected some extreme violence and loads of suspense. But I never expected to be scared out of my wits. To make matters worse, I brought my younger brother along. It was the first movie to officially give him nightmares for more than a week.

The truth is Event Horizon pulled a nice master-of-disguise act, because at no point was I expecting a hardcore horror movie. I was especially not expecting a sci-fi horror movie to deliver a scare level higher than most plain horror movies. The effect of the fright factor is undeniable.

But the movie also happens to be a one-of-a-kind visual spectacle. Director Paul Anderson, who’d go on to make Resident Evil and Alien vs. Predator, has assembled one of the most stunning looking movies I’ve ever seen. In terms of movies set in outer space, this is easily the best one of its kind since Alien, which was unquestionably one of the movie’s inspirations.

The story, set in the year 2047, opens with the crew of the spacecraft Lewis & Clark about to engage a last-minute rescue mission. The ship’s captain, Miller (Laurence Fishburne), and the crew are informed of the mission details from Dr. Weir (Sam Neill). The mission: to rescue and salvage a supposed lost spacecraft known as the Event Horizon.

The ship has resurfaced outside of Neptune after vanishing for seven years. Weir informs the crew that the ship’s capability is involves folding space so that the spacecraft can travel from one point of the universe to another by way of a faster than light flight. The law of relativity prevents this, but Dr. Weir found a way to go around it. He designed the ship’s gravity drive, which allows it to jump between galaxies.

The intent is to find out where the ship has been and what has happened to the crew. When Miller and company finally locate the Event Horizon and enter its vicinity, they are nothing short of bewildered by what they see in the ship’s corridor. At first, a series of objects at zero gravity is all they see. Then a few rotted corpses appear, illustrating that the ship has been up to no good.

It isn’t too long until the crew begins to experience everything from hallucinations to vicious attacks from an unknown force. One crew member manages to get pulled into a liquid pool located inside the ship’s gravity drive. He makes it out, but only to be in a sustained state of shock, leading to a most terrifying scene of near body destruction.

And things only get worse and more bizarre aboard the Event Horizon. Miller starts having hallucinations about a past incident which left a great deal of guilt upon him. And Dr. Weir, advising the crew not to abandon the ship even after discovering the horrific truth about the fate of the ship’s crew, draws closer to becoming a target of the ship in more ways than one. Let me tell you right off the bat that when the movie shifts gears and becomes a full throttle horror movie, it really catches you by surprise. It is certainly the goriest sci-fi movie to ever grace the screen. To get into details, I will end up spoiling some plot details.

But what Event Horizon demonstrates is that certain movies have the rare triumph of style over substance. Every technical aspect from the cinematography to the set designs to the effects work combine to make a truly unforgettable visual movie experience. This is a film that begs to be seen on the biggest screen around. It really is a shame that a movie with such a high caliber of a production was ignored by the Academy for the technical award categories.

Even if the story itself goes into extremely bizarre territory, the visual qualities are there in every scene to keep the viewer’s interest. But at the same time, I’ve come to appreciate the horror/gore factor of the movie. It really is a wild ride.

Video ****

In space, no one can hear you say visuals don't look spectacular on Blu-ray.  In fact, apart from computer animation, I've found that movies that take place off of the earth are the ones that are most striking.  Event Horizon blends detailed and crisp images against the darkness with amazing clarity and sharpness.  Nothing gets lost to graininess or murkiness, and colors, even in lower light levels, come through as natural and well-contrasted.

Audio ****

Scary movies tend to make for outstanding audio tracks, and this TrueHD uncompressed 5.1 offering is taut, ambient, suspenseful and dynamic.  Every sound around every corner is foreboding, and even the most minute cues come through with surprising clarity, making for a more intense experience than ever before, especially when things suddenly get loud.

Features ****

This loaded Blu-ray disc has all of the extras on the double disc DVD release, starting with a nicely informative commentary track with director Paul Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt. It’s an engaging commentary where we learn a lot about what Anderson had originally intended with his cut. He even criticizes certain areas of the movie. Quite a bold move, if you ask me.

There is also a five part documentary, 90 minutes documentary titled “The Making of Event Horizon”. The divided sections include “Into the Jaws of Darkness”; “The Body of the Beast”; “Liberate Tutume Ex Infernis (Save Yourself From Hell)”; “The Scale to Hell” and “The Womb of Fear”. Also featured is The Unseen Event Horizon, which includes an unfilmed rescue scene; Conceptual Art, which features a Montage of paintings and drawings of uniforms, ships and more, “The Point of No Return: The Filming of Event Horizon”, and both the Original theatrical trailer and video trailer.

Summary:

Event Horizon still delivers the same chilling effect it did when I first saw it nearly nine years ago. If you’re a fan of the movie, or are looking for a damn good scary ride in space, this terrific Blu-ray release Paramount is worth your time and money. You won’t be disappointed.

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