Premise – Horror movies have always been divisive towards the audience. From the 80s, the cult franchises have created a trend particularly appreciated by the viewers. The Nightmare movies, the Halloween franchise as well as the Hellraiser flicks have marked the path that walked us, the audience, to an overwhelming cinema market filled with non-original movies, remake, reboots, sequels and prequels.
The formula is basically this: a director makes a successful movie with a little budget and a big return at the box office. So that the Hollywood major labels exploit said success to make tons of sequels and prequels that hit the box office without telling anything new or original to the viewer (ehm ehm… Saw, Hostel… ehm ehm). Sometimes, even the first installment is disappointing by every means but the economical profit (ehm ehm… Paranormal Activity, Wrong Turn… ehm ehm).
All these franchises have something in common, i.e. poor writing, bland characters, jump scares, unoriginal villains, flawed cinematography. Why are they successful? Because the horror audience is now used to go to the movie expecting to have ‘a good time’ instead of being shocked and disturbed by an original, unsettling and brave script filled with good performances, relatable characters and true fear.
What are the consequences? Not just new masterpieces such as It Follows and The Babadook, among the others, are considered as boring movies. Not just the milestones of horror cinema are now considered worthless. But also quite good movies that came out in the last 20-25 years have been underestimated by both audience and reviewers. Here a list for you, hoping you guys can have some fun and meditation on something a bit more original and ‘out there’. Enjoy.
NOTE: some movie franchises are actually worth watching, please do not dismiss the first Saw movie as well as the well-directed Insidious movies. Both from the talent of James Wan. The guy brings it right home.
Event Horizon (1997) is the only decent movie directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, the man behind the Resident Evil movies. No worries, Event Horizon is not even a bit close the Resident Evil crappy films.
The plot is rather simple, a space team is sent to the boundaries of the universe in a far future (2047… gotta love that!) to figure out what happened to the Event Horizon, a spaceship built with a breaking ground technology that has disappeared for a while in the unknown space. When they found it, unsettlingly deserted and apparently abandoned by the crew without any trace, shit starts to happen.
What is special about this film? First of all, the environment. Everything happens inside the spaceship, masterly crafted and designed by Joseph Bennet who, without utilizing the CGI, crates a close, claustrophobic and so unsettling atmosphere. The practical effects are well done in the kinky details and they drag the audience into the movie without requiring a strong suspension of disbelief. The CGI, though, is not entirely absent and, unfortunately, does not hold up very well, especially in the few open-space scenes.
Another strong feature of the movie is represented by the characters. Laurence Fishburne (captain Miller), Sam Neill (Doctor William Weir) and Jason Isaacs (D.J.) shine among the others in Event Horizon. They are good actors, whose characters are well defined so that the viewer cares about them throughout the entire brief runtime of 92 minutes. The downside is the presence of many supporting roles who are there only to be killed in atrocious way without any in-depth development. Still, it is a lot of fun and goosebumps.
The final twist, which I am not going to give away, is mind-blowing and it elevates the movie on another level. The performance of Sam Neill – who was big in the 90s (ehm ehm… Jurassic Park) – is absolutely fantastic towards the ending and it is also backed up masterfully by a Laurence Fishburne Morpheus-like performance. The only complaint I have in regards to the twist is that it is too abrupt. You do not see it coming at all, which is not bad per se, but it makes the audience wonder ‘why and how’ without giving them a proper answer.
Part of my love to this movie is due to nostalgia, I cannot deny that. I have seen this film 9 times now and I remember it as the first thing I have seen on screen that literally freak the shit out of me (hey, I was 7 years old when I first saw Event Horizon). From a detached point of view, it is pretty clear that the movie was not extremely original – it exploits a bit too much from the Alien franchise.
Still, I cannot find a decent explanation why the critiques panned Event Horizon.
All in all, although it has flaws and weaknesses, I consider Event Horizon as one of the best Sci-Fi horror movies of the last 20 years, capable of influencing movie characters and successful video games. Not to be undermined, this movie would probably keep scaring you in the same way it did in the 90s. Cheers.