|||||Primus - Hail Santa||]|
This film takes a lot of shit. And as well it should, honestly. It obviously tries too hard to capture the pseudo-sexual psychological tortures Clive Barker perfects almost carelessly, resulting in forced use of clichéd "disturbing images."
Maggots? Really? What do maggots have do with anything going on in the film? I mean, I suppose one could make the case that being the pupal state of one of the great survivors and adaptors of the natural world it actually fits in with the continuing theme of birth and gestation of the film...but that's one hell of a stretch. Granted, the conceptual imagery I will proceed to present is a stretch in and of itself, but the maggots were obviously put into the film to make you, the audience, feel perturbed. But they come about at a point in the film where we're long past fear.
Let's back-track a little bit. For those who man not know what I'm talking about, or who need a refresher course on what Event Horizon is in terms of plot, I offer this:
The Shining - (psychic retards and/or children) + 1/2 2001: A Space Odyssey
1/2 Alien - (metaphor for the inherent strength of woman) = Event Horizon
Are we all on the same page now? Good.
The film does deliver a stunning, terrifying ambience which contributes most (if not all) of the jarring horrors of the film. The score, by Michael Kamen heavily influenced by Orbital, is appropriately grinding and detached, further enhancing the experience (though not as well as ...28 Days Later, for example). The acting is superb (a post-Jurassic Park Sam Neill plays off against a pre-Matrix Laurence Fishburne, while the always welcome Jason Isaacs looms in the background). The characterization is spot on (the airlock sequence between Jack Noseworthy and Kathleen Quinlan is particularly difficult to watch) without being domineering (as in traditional horror cinema, the characters are instantly likeable and recognizable primarily because they are archetypes, facets of human psyche; this is in the same vein as superhero comics and classical mythology). The effects, while occasionally succumbing to the ever present cheese factor that plagues conventional science fiction cinema (especially in the mood-setting antigrav sequences, which are extremely difficult to take seriously...and is that a fucking X-Wing on the Event Horizon proper?) are generally well done and serve primarily to further the sense of foreboding that is accomplished so well in the first two thirds of the film. The set design is also very organic and effectively serves as a funnel for the audience's trepidations, even though it focuses a little too much on gothic sensibilties which, frankly, feel somewhat out of place (the Event Horizon herself is shaped like Notre Dame, and the engine room has spikes on the walls...seriously, why the shit would you have spikes protruding from the walls of your engine room?).
Yet despite all this in favor of the film, it is still considered by and large to be little more than a popcorn horror film with a weak ending. This is actually a similar reason as to why The Fountain is so often chided as being overtly pretentious and self-referential. At the risk of sounding condescending, this is a thinking person's horror film. It has to be viewed with a certain intellectual awareness or, frankly, it will end up a disapointing, lackluster gore-fest.
The major theme, and underlying metaphor, of the film is birth, itself a metaphor for immaturity and failure. Even the name, Event Horizon, is a term sometimes used to describe the moment a pregnant mother's cervix becomes fully dilated. Using Grant Morrison's chaotician theory of the universe as a gestating living organism, one may view the film (and in particular the Event Horizon herself) in this way. The ship is the fetus, with the universe itself being the womb. When the ship "tears a hole in the universe" and traverses into a parallel universe, it is actually breaking free of the womb. And while it is stated that the ship goes to "a place of pure chaos and evil," it is safe to assume that this is essentially what a newborn would feel as well, having newly been seperated from it's safe haven and thrust into a world of noise and light and staggering sensation.
Evil is ultimately subjective.
But the ship doesn't remain in that other universe, it isn't actually "born." It comes back, and brings with it a form of sentient life. Here, the imagery of birth is skewed in favor of the theme of immaturity. Frankly, the ship is not ready to be born, and the events of the film are the universe essentially miscarrying the ship and the ship, as a living organism, fighting back in whatever way it can. The human cast, in this case, serves as the universe's antibodies.
Furthering this intricate web of metaphor stacked upon metaphor, we have Sam Neill as the Event Horizon's father and eventual son, enthrusting a neo-Oedipal cycle that reaches fruition at the climax of the film. Sam Neill's Dr. Weir is the film's classic hero, and while he ultimately becomes the film's antagonist, he remains the focal point of the story and thus remains the hero. With the (rather stereotypical) dream-sequence where he sees his wife kill herself and thus willingly becomes a part of the ship, he comes full circle from the ship's father to her unborn son. At this point, the film ceases to be a horror movie, and this is often when the typical audience loses faith in the film, and where most critics will agree it loses all of the momentum it has built up.
When next we see Dr. Weir, he is at the bridge in the captain's chair. In the fetal position. Almost immediately thereafter, he is forcibly extricated from the ship after breaking through a glass barrier (furthering the birth imagery). But, just as the Event Horizon was not prepared to leave the universal womb and is thrust back, only to be destroyed from within, Dr. Weir is also not ready to leave the ship and is then himself brought back (physically changed as well), only to be destroyed by the ship's defenses.
Certain aspects of the film, I feel, were included primarily to further cement it's pressence in the horror genre. While all manner of metaphor and meaning could be derived from the ship's penchant to have it's crew remove their eyes, it is safe to say that this was included to increase the gore factor. Overall, this film would have functioned much better on a much smaller budget and focusing less on the classic horror elements and more on the intellectual aspects that make the film what it is.
I'd call it a solid 7 of 10 (rating system of your choice). Definately a fun film to watch with friends in the dark with the volume all the way up. But also the kind of film one can appreciate alone. Make masturbation jokes as you see fit.