Event Horizon (film)

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Event Horizon
Picture of spacecraft with the text "Infinite size, Infinite Terror"
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Paul Anderson
Produced by Lawrence Gordon
Lloyd Levin
Jeremy Bolt
Written by Philip Eisner
Andrew Kevin Walker
Music by
Cinematography Adrian Biddle
Edited by Martin Hunter
Paramount Pictures
Golar Productions
Impact Pictures
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • August 15, 1997 (1997-08-15) (United States)
  • August 22, 1997 (1997-08-22) (United Kingdom)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[1]
Box office $47 million[2]

Event Horizon is a 1997 British-American science fiction horror film. The screenplay was written by Philip Eisner, with an uncredited rewrite by Andrew Kevin Walker, and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. The film stars Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill.

Event Horizon received negative reviews upon release with most critics comparing the film to Alien, Hellraiser, The Black Hole, Solaris, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film was also a box office bomb, grossing $47 million against a $60 million production budget. In recent years though, in a similar fashion to Blade Runner and John Carpenter's The Thing, it has come to be regarded as a unique contribution to the sci-fi genre with positive contemporary reviews.


In 2047, the rescue vessel Lewis and Clark is dispatched to answer a distress signal received from the Event Horizon, a starship that disappeared during its maiden voyage to Proxima Centauri seven years before. Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) and his crew — Lieutenant Starck (Joely Richardson), Pilot Smith (Sean Pertwee), Medical Technician Peters (Kathleen Quinlan), Engineer Ensign Justin (Jack Noseworthy), Rescue Technician Cooper (Richard T. Jones), and Trauma Doctor D.J. (Jason Isaacs) — are joined for the mission by the Event Horizon's designer, Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill). Dr. Weir briefs the crew, telling them that the Event Horizon was built to test an experimental gravity drive. This drive generates an artificial black hole and uses its immense gravitational power to bridge two points in spacetime, greatly reducing travel time over astronomical distances.

Upon arriving at the ship's decaying orbit around Neptune and boarding the Event Horizon to search for survivors, the crew finds evidence of a massacre. During the search, the ship's gravity drive activates automatically. Justin is pulled into the resulting portal, returning in a catatonic state. He is so terrified by what he witnesses during the crossover that he attempts suicide, after which he is placed in stasis. The activation of the gravity drive causes a massive shock wave that critically damages the Lewis and Clark and forces the entire crew to board the Event Horizon. The crew then begins experiencing hallucinations corresponding to their fears and regrets: Miller sees a subordinate, Corrick (Noah Huntley), he was forced to abandon in a zero gravity fire; Peters sees images of her son Denny (Barclay Wright) with his legs covered in bloody lesions; and Dr. Weir, a widower, sees his wife Claire (Holley Chant) with missing eyes, urging him to join her.

The team soon discovers a video log of the Event Horizon‍ '​s crew as they went insane and mutilated each other in a "blood orgy". The video log ends with a shot of the Event Horizon's captain, who has apparently gouged out his own eyes, holding them up to the camera and saying in Latin, "liberate tuteme ex inferis" (lit. "save yourself from hell"). Miller and D.J. deduce that the ship's gravity drive opened a gateway into a dimension outside the known universe. Dr. Weir describes it as "a dimension of pure chaos, pure evil" which has given the Event Horizon a horrible telepathic sentience that torments its occupants and compels them to return to this hell.

Miller decides to destroy the Event Horizon despite objections from Dr. Weir, who is seduced and eventually possessed by the evil presence and who uses an explosive device from the Event Horizon to destroy the Lewis and Clark. Smith is killed in the explosion and Cooper is propelled into space. Peters dies from a long fall after being lured into the engineering section by an apparition of her son. An eyeless Dr. Weir kills D.J. by vivisecting him and corners Starck on the bridge. Miller tries to rescue Starck but is caught by Dr. Weir, who activates the ship's gravity drive, initiating a ten-minute countdown, after which the Event Horizon and its passengers will return to the other dimension. Cooper, having used his space suit's oxygen to propel himself back to the ship, tries to contact those inside, but Dr. Weir retaliates by shooting out the bridge window. Dr. Weir is blown out into space by the ensuing decompression, while Miller, Starck, and Cooper survive and manage to seal off the bridge area of the ship.

Miller then resolves to detonate the explosives installed on the Event Horizon to split the ship in two and use the forward section of the ship as a lifeboat. He is attacked by manifestations of Corrick and Dr. Weir, who shows Miller horrifying visions of the Lewis and Clark‍ '​s crew being tortured and mutilated once they return to hell. Miller fights off these visions and manages to detonate the explosives, sacrificing himself so that Justin, Cooper, and Starck can escape. The gravity drive activates, pulling the rear of the ship into a wormhole. Starck and Cooper join Justin in stasis and wait to be rescued.

Seventy-two days later, the Event Horizon is located by a rescue party, who discover the remaining crew still in stasis. A newly awakened Starck hallucinates that a scarred Dr. Weir is posing as one of the rescuers. Cooper restrains the terrified Starck and one of the rescuers calls for a sedative as the doors close ominously.


  • Laurence Fishburne as Captain Miller, Commanding Officer of the Lewis & Clark
  • Sam Neill as Dr. William Weir, designer of the Event Horizon
  • Joely Richardson as Lieutenant Starck, Executive Officer of the Lewis & Clark
  • Jason Isaacs as D.J., Medical Doctor of the Lewis & Clark
  • Sean Pertwee as Smith, Pilot of the Lewis & Clark
  • Richard T. Jones as Cooper, Rescue Technician of the Lewis & Clark
  • Kathleen Quinlan as Peters, Medical Technician of the Lewis & Clark
  • Jack Noseworthy as Ensign Justin, Chief Engineer of the Lewis & Clark
  • Noah Huntley as Edmund Corrick, Miller's former shipmate from the Goliath
  • Peter Marinker as Captain John Kilpack, Commanding Officer of the Event Horizon
  • Holley Chant as Claire Weir, Dr. Weir's wife
  • Barclay Wright as Denny Peters, son of Technician Peters
  • Robert Jezek as Rescue Technician, rescues the survivors of the Lewis & Clark


After directing the successful Mortal Kombat in 1995, Anderson was offered the job. The release date had already been set and Anderson agreed, despite that the deadline meant that the post-production period was severely reduced. On the commentary, Anderson cites this as the main cause for the many troubles faced during production and especially when Anderson was to make decisions on the final cut.[3]

In the commentary Anderson mentions the wish he had to direct an R rated picture after the PG-13 rated Mortal Kombat and also mentions that he turned down the opportunity to direct X-Men, Alien Resurrection, and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation in order to make Event Horizon.[3]

Deleted footage[edit]

Directors usually have a standard 10-week editing period to produce the first cut of a movie, as guaranteed by the Directors Guild of America. However, due to the short production schedule of the movie, the rapidly approaching release date, and the fact that principal photography was still not finished, Anderson agreed with the Paramount studio to an editing period of six weeks and promised to deliver the film for release in August 1997, as Paramount wanted to have a hit movie before Titanic, which they were going to release in September. When the main unit wrapped, Anderson was supposed to start editing the movie, but he still had to shoot two weeks of film with the second unit, effectively shortening the time he could spend in post production to just four weeks. In this short time, only a rough cut of the movie could be assembled. Anderson notes that at two hours and 10 minutes, it was overly long, with weak directing and acting that could have used a further editing pass, unfinished special effects and a poor sound mix.[3][4][5]

In test screenings the cut was poorly received. There were complaints about the extreme amount of gore,[5] and Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt claim members of the test audience fainted during the screening.[4] Paramount, which had stopped looking at the dailies before any of the gore was shot and were seeing the complete movie for the first time along with the audience, were similarly shocked by how gruesome it was and demanded a shorter length time with a decreased amount of gore.

Anderson believes that while his first cut was justifiably long, Paramount forced him to make a cut that was too short and that would benefit by restoring around 10 minutes of missing footage, including some of its gore.[4] After a successful initial DVD release, the studio and Anderson became interested in assembling a director's cut but they quickly found out that the excised footage had not been carefully stored and that much of it had gone missing. Some of the footage was located in a salt mine in Transylvania in bad condition.[6] The plan to assemble a director's cut was abandoned and instead a Special Edition two-DVD set was released that featured one deleted scene, two extended scenes, and a few shots of deleted material in the included making-of. The footage is of "video" quality.[4]

Known deleted scenes include a meeting scene between Weir and people in charge of the mission in which they talk about Event Horizon (dialogue from this deleted scene was included in theatrical trailer),[7][8] more backstory for Cooper and Justin (including a stronger explanation for Justin entering the black hole), a deleted backstory of the relationship between Starck and Miller, additional scenes explaining what the gateway to hell/black hole is,[9] Miller finding a tooth floating in Event Horizon,[5] a longer version of the scene in which Peters hallucinates that her maggot-covered son's legs are mangled.,[4] scene in which Weir hallucinates that Justin turns into his wife Claire,[10][11] bloodier version of Weir's wife Claire suicide, longer version of the scene where Miller finds D.J's dead body with his guts on the table, and longer version of the "Visions From Hell" scene during Miller's final fight with Weir with more shots of Event Horizon crew being tortured.

The "bloody orgy" video was also longer. As Anderson was sometimes too busy filming other scenes, second unit director Vadim Jean filmed some parts of this scene.[5] Real-life amputees were used for special effects scenes in which Event Horizon crew members were mutilated, and porn actors were hired to make the sex and rape scenes more realistic and graphic.[4]

The film's final ending was a combination of two unused alternate endings that were filmed. One didn't have cheap jump scare at the end when last two survivors are found by another rescue crew and Starck hallucinates that she sees Weir, although there was a similar version of the scene included in this ending where she hears screams of Event Horizon crew and screams in fear before Cooper wakes her up. This was the original ending of the movie included in the shooting script.[12] The second ending had Miller fighting with the burned man from his visions at the core instead of with Weir, but this was changed due to the negative test screening.[11]

In an Event Horizon Q&A in 2011, Anderson was asked when extra footage will be made available. He responded "never", explaining that much of it is gone forever.[4] However, in a 2012 interview he announced that producer Lloyd Levin had found a VHS tape with his original rough cut. Anderson said that after finishing Resident Evil: Retribution, he planned to watch this rough cut for the first time since assembling the film.[13]


Michael Kamen was hired to compose the score for the film. Paul W.S. Anderson, a fan of hybrid genre music invited the electronic music dance duo Orbital to collaborate with Kamen and to provide synthesizing sounds for the film's unsettling atmosphere. The score contains four lengthy tracks that are covering various sections of the film.[clarification needed]


Critical reception[edit]

The film received generally negative reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 24% based on reviews from 37 critics[14] whereas on Metacritic it scored a rating of 35.[15] Critics praised its visuals, the cast, Anderson's direction paying homage to films like Alien and The Shining and especially its production design and moody atmosphere while feeling that the third act is anti-climactic with many questions remaining unanswered.

Roger Ebert gave the film a negative review giving the film 2 stars out of 4, stating, "The script creates a sense of foreboding and afterboding, but no actual boding."[16] Washington Post critic Stephen Hunter wrote,"If you want to have that Event Horizon experience without spending the seven bucks, try this instead: Put a bucket on your head. Have a loved one beat on it vigorously with a wrench for 100 minutes. Same difference, and think of the gas you'll save".[17]

On the other hand, the film originally had its supporters, with Empire magazine awarding Event Horizon a 3 out of 5 stars rating, reporting: "That the film never fulfils its promise is down to its over reliance on horror vagaries in a precision-built sci-fi milieu, ultimately leaving too many unanswered queries. A sharper script and a more credible solution could have turned this impressive hokum into a force to be reckoned with".[18] Additionally, Total Film also gave it a score of 3 out of 5 stars, stating that "Excellent special effects and an Alien-esque feel make this supernatural horror film ("The Shining in space," as most critics have called it, pretty accurately) well worth a look. There are certainly plenty of jumps on offer as a possessed ship torments and tortures any humans it can find. Well worth a look.".[19] Entertainment Weekly gave it a B-, stating, "Just when you’ve written off this deep-space nightmare as a late-summer melange of Alien, Fantastic Voyage, The Shining, and a dozen more forgettable otherworldly thrillers, it unleashes some of the most unsettling horror imagery in years",[20] whereas the Time Out magazine mentioned that "despite its shortcomings, this is never dull. The movie avoids Alien space monster clichés brilliantly and the soundtrack contains more of the 'Boo!' effects than I've heard since Halloween."[21]

Box office[edit]

Event Horizon was a commercial failure. Domestically the film only grossed $26,616,590 and $20,400,000 internationally for a total of $47,073,851 failing to recoup its estimated $60 million production budget.[1][2]


Despite being a critical and commercial failure, the film has since been seen in a more favorable light.[22] It is regarded by contemporary critics as one of the scariest films of all time.[23][24][25][26] Trey Parker and Matt Stone cite the film as an inspiration for their Satan-worshipping woodland critters who engage in gory acts and orgies in the South Park episode "Woodland Critter Christmas".[27] The film was also a strong inspiration for the video game series Dead Space.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Event Horizon - Box Office Data". The Numbers. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Event Horizon at Boxoffice.com
  3. ^ a b c Special Edition DVD Commentary
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Paul W.S. Anderson Event Horizon Q&A. YouTube. 18 December 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d The Making of Event Horizon
  6. ^ Extended Burning Man Confrontation deleted scene commentary
  7. ^ Event Horizon deleted scene. YouTube. 8 October 2010. 
  8. ^ Event Horizon (1997) Trailer. YouTube. 13 February 2009. 
  9. ^ Cutting Room article on Event Horizon, Issue #170, Page 12
  10. ^ За кулисами кино "Горизонт событий" часть 4\9. Behind The Scenes "Event Horizon" part 4\9. YouTube. 13 May 2013. 
  11. ^ a b За кулисами кино "Горизонт событий" часть 7\9. Behind The Scenes "Event Horizon" part 7\9. YouTube. 13 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "Event Horizon". imsdb.com. 
  13. ^ "Paul W.S. Anderson Talks RESIDENT EVIL 5 RETRIBUTION, EVENT HORIZON, DEATH RACE: INFERNO". Collider. Retrieved 4 August 2015. 
  14. ^ "Event Horizon". rottentomatoes.com. 15 August 1997. 
  15. ^ "Event Horizon". Metacritic. 
  16. ^ Roger Ebert (August 15, 1997). "Event Horizon (1997)". Roger Ebert.com. 
  17. ^ "WashingtonPost.com: 'Event Horizon': Blood Simple". washingtonpost.com. 
  18. ^ "Empire's Event Horizon Movie Review". empireonline.com. 
  19. ^ Total Film (22 August 1997). "Event Horizon review". GamesRadar+. 
  20. ^ "Event Horizon - EW.com". ew.com. 
  21. ^ "Event Horizon". Time Out London. 
  22. ^ Gibron, Bill. "Event Horizon: Special Two-Disc Collector's Edition". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  23. ^ "Cult Classic: Event Horizon". JOE.ie. 
  24. ^ "[Poll] Is 'Event Horizon' Amazing Or Terrible?! -". bloody-disgusting.com. 
  25. ^ Alex Maidy. "The UnPopular Opinion: Event Horizon". joblo.com. 
  26. ^ Matt Barone. "Event Horizon - The 50 Scariest Movies of All Time - Complex UK". Complex UK. 
  27. ^ South Park Season 8 DVD Commentary, episode 814
  28. ^ "Dead Space = Event Horizon? A comparison between a movie and a game". ScrewAttack. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 

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