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Event Horizon

One of the perqs of working for the guy who runs ILM was that you got the opportunity to see a lot of movies before they came out. An email would come around maybe Wednesday or Thursday announcing that there would be a special screening of a movie that weekend, and that you could go to one of the local theaters to see it. The strange part, though, is that they had to arrange the screenings such that they didn't conflict with the theater's regular movie times, which typically meant that the screenings would be early in the morning, say 8:30-9:00am.

So, imagine the scene. You are told there's a screening of a movie that you don't really know much about, apart from what you've learned from the trailers (of course, a lot of movies look really cool from the trailers, but suck in real life). It's 8:30am on a Saturday morning, you're just barely awake, and you're sitting in a darkened theater. It's definitely what I would call a surreal experience.

Which I guess heightened the already surreal experience of watching Event Horizon back when it came out in 1997. I've long been a fan of both horror and sci-fi, so the occasional movie that mixes the two together tends to show up on my radar. The cast looked good, I remember having a good, surreal time, and I recall Vera being pretty freaked out afterwards. So in a fit of spontaneity at Border's the other day I picked up a copy as part of their buy 3 get 1 free DVD deal.

The first thing I noticed after popping in the disc is that it was directed by Paul Anderson, who doesn't exactly have the best track record of late (though his take on Mortal Kombat can be fairly enjoyable with some friends and alcohol). The movie really throws you quickly into the plot without much explanation -- I can only imagine how confused I was early on a Saturday morning.

Watching the movie again, I can see why it appealed to me last time (certainly I couldn't remember from before -- after about 6 months I can't remember a damn thing from any movie I've watched). It has a lot of the "we're investigating a derelict ship in the middle of nowhere" vibe that made Alien so successful at building suspense. At the same time, it's mixed in with more of a Hellraiser sort of vibe by the end with creepy-ass extradimensional beings and even a very Pinhead-esque character. I'd say the quality of the final result is somewhere in between the two, but closer to the Hellraiser end of the scale. It has enough cheap scares and creepy scenes to make the horror film fan side of me happy, and enough technobabble and spaceships to keep the sci-fi fan side of me fine with it as well.

Overall, 3/4 stars. But only if you like this kind of stuff. :-)