1997's Event Horizon has developed a reputation as a disturbing horror movie. If you, for example, watched it at a tender age, youthful eyeballs glued to a big CRT in a darkened room while your parents were out of town, you likely take this fact for granted. Childhood hero Dr. Alan Grant stalks around naked, covered in scars and demonic prosthetics; there are spooky recordings of people screaming in Latin and murdering each other; a sci-fi ship’s crew is trapped on a haunted vessel traveling far from Earth through the inky eternity of space. To a kid, yes, Event Horizon is absolutely traumatic.
A YouTube video from Ryan Hollinger takes a closer look, though, providing less developmentally scarred insight toward the movie’s alleged scariness and trying to examine Paul W.S. Anderson’s space horror at face value, rather than nostalgic remove.
Hollinger starts off by calling Event Horizon “pinnacle ‘90s schlock” that has a hard time threading the needle between camp and self-seriousness. While looking to uncover how, exactly, a movie released after such a troubled production process came to enjoy its current reputation as legitimately frightening, Hollinger cites the final cut’s missing footage and the characterization of Sam Neill’s soon-to-be-possessed Dr. Weir as key ingredients to the sense of unease that permeates even its goofiest moments.
The video also highlights Anderson’s evocation of Hieronymus Bosch’s hellscapes not to praise the movie’s creepiest visuals, usually cited by its fans as disturbing, but to point out the way Anderson uses a Boschian preoccupation with hell’s chaos to undermine scientific logic.
So is it as disturbing as its reputation suggests? Hollinger ends with a bit of equivocation, saying that the concept is good enough that Event Horizon may not be “some troubled masterpiece” but that it succeeds to the point that he’ll “say, with some patience, it isn’t all fucked up.” If you remain frightened of an eyeless, maniacally grinning Sam Neill even after watching Hollinger’s dissection, take heart: there’s no antidote better than a look at that time he tweeted about rescuing pigs and followed it up with a photo of a kitten. There’s nothing scary about that.
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