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 $47,073,851[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.

The film initially received negative reviews upon release with most critics comparing the film to Alien, Hellraiser, The Black Hole, Solaris, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, but in recent years (in a similar fashion to Blade Runner and John Carpenter's The Thing) is regarded as a better film with a cult following and positive contemporary reviews. The film was also a box office bomb, grossing $47 million against a $60 million production budget.


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 prior. 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 that the Event Horizon was built to test an experimental gravity drive, which generates an artificial black hole to use the 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 later placed in stasis after a failed suicide attempt in apprehension over the events he witnessed during his crossover. The activation of the gravity drive causes a massive shockwave, which critically damages the Lewis and Clark and forces the entire crew to board the Event Horizon. The crew then begins experiencing hallucinations of 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 discover a video log of the Event Horizon's crew going insane, mutilating each other and engaging in a "blood orgy". The video log ends with a shot of the Event Horizon's captain, apparently having gouged his own eyes out, holding his eyes up to the camera and saying a message in latin, "liberate tuteme ex inferis" (lit. "save yourself from hell"). Miller and D.J. deduce that while the ship's gravity drive did successfully open a gateway in spacetime, it leapt outside the known universe and into another dimension, described later on by Dr. Weir as "a dimension of pure chaos, pure evil" (and implied to be Hell). The Event Horizon has since then gained an evil sentience and telepathic abilities, tormenting its occupants with the aim of compelling them to return to Hell.

Miller decides to destroy the Event Horizon despite objections from Dr. Weir, who is seduced and eventually possessed by the evil presence and uses an explosive device from the Event Horizon to destroy the Lewis and Clark. Smith is killed in the explosion, which also launches Cooper 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 him back to the ship, tries to contact those inside, and 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 the manifestation 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 and explodes into a state of extreme terror. Cooper restrains 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 Edward 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 Director's 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 about ten to six weeks and promised to deliver the film for release in August 1997, as Paramount expected to have a hit movie before Titanic which they were going to release in September. In this short time, only a rough cut of the movie could be assembled. Due to negative test screenings, Paramount ordered Anderson to heavily cut the movie and make it shorter and to remove much of the violence and gore.[4][5][6]

In 2012 a team began to compile deleted and lost footage for a special edition release, but the found footage was in such bad condition, that restoring them into the movie was out of the question (according to Anderson, some footage had been stored in an abandoned Transylvanian salt mine), and so was included as deleted footage instead.[7]

Deleted scenes included the meeting scene between Weir and some people in charge of the mission where they talk about Event Horizon (dialogue from this deleted scene was included in theatrical trailer),[8][9] more back story for Cooper and Justin (including much stronger explanation for why Justin enters the black hole), a deleted love back story between Starck and Miller, more scenes explaining what exactly gateway to hell/black hole is,[10] Miller finds a ripped out tooth floating around in Event Horizon,[6] and a longer version of the scene where Peters hallucinates her son with his legs all mangled with maggots all over them.[5] After Justin almost died and is inside the water tank, Weir hallucinationed Justin turning into his wife Claire.[11][12]

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.[6] Real life amputees were used for special effects scenes where Event Horizon crew members had their body parts damaged in many ways, and porn actors were hired to make the sex and rape scenes more realistic and graphic.[5]

Three different alternate endings were filmed. The final used ending is a combination of two unused endings: The first unused ending dispenses with the shock ending of Starck hallucinating that she sees Weir before Cooper wakes her up. This was the original ending of the movie and it is included in shooting script.[13] The second ending had Miller fighting with the burned man from his visions at the core instead of with Weir but it was changed due to negative test screening.[12]

The original 130 minute cut including all the missing footage was reportedly found on a single VHS tape by producer Lloyd Levin as announced in an interview by Paul W.S. Anderson when he was at ComicCon 2012.[14]


Michael Kamen was hired to compose the score for the film. Paul WS 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[15] whereas on Metacritic it scored a rating of 35.[16] 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".[17] Washington Post critic Stephen Hunter wrote that "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".[18]

On the other hand, the film originally had its supporters with the Empire magazine awarding Event Horizon a 3 out of 5 stars rating reporting that "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".[19] Additionally, Total Film gave it also 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.".[20] Entertainment Weekly gave it a B- stating that "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".[21] 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".[22]

Box office[edit]

Event Horizon was a box office bomb. 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 gained a cult following and has been seen in more favorable light.[23] It is regarded by contemporary critics as one of the scariest films of all time.[24][25][26][27] 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".[28] The film was also a strong inspiration for the video game series Dead Space.[29]

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