The Daily Stream: Event Horizon Will Get Under Your Skin And Make Itself At Home

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Movie: "Event Horizon"

Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max

The Pitch: There are horror movies that'll throw a jump scare at you from time to time and then there are horror movies that'll dig into your psyche and make itself comfortable for a while. "Event Horizon" is one of the latter horror movies. It's mean, nasty and, yes, a tad goofy.

Why It's Essential Viewing

I never would have thought I'd be championing a Paul W.S. Anderson movie on a Daily Stream, but here we are. I've heard nothing but good things about Anderson as a person, but as a filmmaker... well, let's just say he isn't my cup of tea. I'm a very positive guy, usually. I try to find the best in everything, but most Paul W.S. Anderson movies penetrate my positivity armor and expose my inner pessimist.

"Mortal Kombat" is hard to hate, but dumb as hell. "Soldier" wastes Kurt Russell in his prime, which is an unforgivable sin. "Alien Vs. Predator" is an eye-roller of epic proportions. "Death Race," "Pompeii," and "Monster Hunter" are barely coherent. Despite some cool imagery in the very first film, the "Resident Evil" series also wastes its potential by focusing on the action part of the legendary video game series and ignoring the tension that made those games so popular in the first place.

The one movie of his that I'm actually impressed by is this 1997 sci-fi/horror film starring Sam Neill, Laurence Fishburne, Kathleen Quinlan, Jason Isaacs, Sean Pertwee, Jack Noseworthy and Richard T. Jones. 

"Event Horizon" is the name of a ship which disappeared inside a black hole sometime in our near-future. After many years, the Event Horizon reemerges and a new crew is assigned to investigate it and uncover what happened.

Naturally, the truth behind the Event Horizon disappearance is not pleasant and the movie really imbues a sense of pending dread early on that it not only pays off later, it pays off in spades.

Anderson assembled a wonderful cast who take the movie just seriously enough to sell the horror, but also know this is time to really have fun. Sam Neill in particular chews the scenery with a glint in his eye (at least while he has them) as madness overtakes him, but everybody turns in solid work here.

'She's Been to a Place You Can't Possibly Imagine.'

The effects in the movie are atypically great (sorry to keep digging on Anderson's work, but you've seen the later "Resident Evil" movies, you know I'm not wrong), embracing that used universe aesthetic that worked so well in the original "Star Wars" films, "Blade Runner," and "Alien." And the gore! The movie is unabashedly R-rated and some truly nasty business unfolds as our hapless crew uncovers the mystery of the Event Horizon.

All that is wonderful, but the reason the movie stands heads and shoulders above anything Anderson had done before or since is how he handled the tone of the thing. The visuals are a part of it and the cinematography in particular adds a lot to the spooky factor, but so does the set design, framing, and pacing. The creeping dread and sense of true insanity permeate every frame, even when the more goofy stuff is happening, so that there's a feeling of consistency throughout, again not one of Anderson's strong suits.

All that is to say there are very few horror movies that actually unnerve me, that get under my skin and give me the heebie jeebies, but "Event Horizon" is one of them, so I begrudgingly give it its props. There's a little bit of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" in there, even more "Hellraiser" and a generous pinch of "Alien."

Also of note, I have a feeling that "Event Horizon" was very influential to the makers of the "Dead Space" games. Those play like the tone of "Event Horizon" married with the terror of "John Carpenter's The Thing." So, if you dig those games and have never seen this movie, then boy howdy are you in for a good time.