Really? Event Horizon is “unseen”? Because of its meager acclaims and relatively widespread release, I had never even considered including Event Horizon as an “unseen” title. Everyone had seen the film, right? My feelings on the title’s inclusion changed several weeks ago when I was asked to be a guest lecturer in a college freshman Film Studies class. At the end of my lecture, I invited the students to ask any questions they may have about horror films. The first question was one I have been asked more times than I can count: “What’s the scariest movie you have ever seen?” I gave my default answer about how “scary” is subjective to each individual person and then rattled off two or three titles that personally had scared the hell out of me. Among them was Event Horizon. The students look confused. I asked how many had seen Event Horizon. Out of the lecture hall class of over 150 freshmen, one person raised his hand. Well, maybe it’s not as well known as I thought. Perhaps, it was just seen by one generation, and the film didn’t make the jump to future generations of horror viewers. Perhaps though many dedicated horror fans know this film well, it never transcended outside of the obscure horror circle into mainstream cinema like I felt it had. Or maybe people have no clue what an “event horizon” is and how completely terrifying the concept can be when captured in a film. So I welcome Event Horizon into my “unseen” collection.
Event Horizon came out in 1997, which was a weird time for horror cinema in general. Scream had dominated the box office the prior year and shifted the horror pendulum back towards teen horror flicks. It not surprising that the top horror films of 1997 were Scream 2 and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Mimic, Anaconda, and The Relic also made small waves. Then there was Event Horizon which from the trailer looks mostly like a science fiction piece with some horror woven in. It felt out of place with horror at the time, and the intensity, terror, and gore contained in the film took many horror fans by surprise. Compared to Event Horizon, teen terrors Scream and I Know What You Did Like Summer are a cake walk.
Event Horizon was not well received when it was at the theaters. It garnered bad reviews and made back less than a third of the film’s massive 60 million dollar budget. Why the bad reviews? Again, I feel that this film has some flaws but it largely just came at a strange time in cinema. Tastes were shifting from large studio flicks towards the indie markets, and horror was struggling to find a place amongst the changing of the guard. This large budget, effects heavy science fiction horror film just didn’t fit. It was way too intense for most teen crowds and way too intense for most peripheral horror fans. Yet, Event Horizon is amazing. It is intense, but not nearly as intense as director Paul W.S. Anderson originally intended. The studios felt that test audiences were leaving far too shaken and disturbed from screenings, so they required that Anderson cut out some of the extreme gore. Anderson has said in many interviews that he regrets having to comply and still dislikes the ending. Some of the deleted scenes are now available (in horrible video quality) on some of the DVD and Blu-ray releases. Some of the footage has just been lost.
Event Horizon is not hard to find nor is it expensive. Regardless of bad reviews at the time, Event Horizon was very influential for the small number of horror fans who dared to watch. This one is a must for horror and science fiction fans alike.