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Blu-ray Review: Event Horizon

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Event Horizon was released in 1997 and was touted as one of the scariest movies you will ever see. While it does not live up to that bold claim, it does have some thrills and a great atmosphere that translates well onto Blu-ray.

The Movie

The futuristic story in Event Horizon centers on a search and rescue ship, the Lewis and Clark, which is sent to recover the recently discovered vessel, the Event Horizon. The Event Horizon is a revolutionary ship that is equipped with an experimental faster than light (FTL) drive. It disappeared on its maiden voyage when the drive was activated and remained missing for seven years.

click to view larger imageThe creator of the FTL drive, Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill), is sent with the crew of the Lewis and Clark to rescue the ship. No-nonsense Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) is reluctant to go but accepts his mission and his close-mouthed passenger. When they approach the Event Horizon, the Clark is damaged and they must repair the ship before they can leave.

Once the Event Horizon is boarded the crew discovers that everyone on board is dead and there is evidence of incredibly violent and bloody acts aboard the derelict ship. As they begin to unlock what really happened everyone starts to have visions and experience traumatic flashes from their past. Something is wrong with the ship and Dr. Weir appears to be in the middle of it.

The movie itself starts as a taut sci-fi thriller and changes at the midway point to a space-themed horror experience. It doesn’t quite find itself completely in either genre but it does entertain and keeps your attention till the bloody conclusion. The actors, led by Neill and Fishburne, all turn in decent performances, with Sam Neill noticeably stealing the show as his character degenerates over the course of the story.

click to view larger imageEvent Horizon is a movie that greatly benefits from the quality of the set pieces and the claustrophobic nature of the ships the characters are in. The scenes are tight and contained with effective lighting and cinematography that enhances the tension in the scenes. The special effects are very well done and hold together nicely considering the movie was originally released in 1997.

This was Paul W.S. Anderson’s first major film (after directing the surprisingly good Mortal Kombat) and he produced a complex and entertaining experience that he should be proud of. Event Horizon is by no means a stellar film — it has issues with pacing and abrupt shifts in style — but it is an enjoyable, scary, and compelling film that is well worth watching.

The Video

click to view larger imageWhile not reference quality, the 1080p 2.35:1 transfer is still quite stunning and is very impressive for an 11-year-old film. As this movie is very dark and set in claustrophobic corridors I was pleasantly surprised to see that lighting variance and black levels were very well done. By and large the blacks were very deep and light sources were handled extremely well. Skin tones and textures were very clear with transitions between light sources reflecting very well.

Color levels and details were nicely represented as well. There are a number of close-up scenes where individual beads of sweat or drops of blood were clear and vivid in their detail. While the film does not have the nearly three dimensional pop of some of the finest transfers it is very well done considering the age and relatively low budget of the movie.

The Audio

Presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack Event Horizon features a lossless soundtrack on this Blu-ray release. The lossless mix does a wonderful job of immersing you into the experience faced by the crew of the Lewis and Clark… for the most part.

click to view larger imageSound is very dynamic with surround effects being very convincing and ample bass making your subwoofer earn its keep. Dialogue is clean and very easy to discern from background effects/noise. During most of the movie the sound levels are excellent, but there are odd variants from time to time. It is not completely jarring, but there are noticeable dips in the volume that pulls you out of the experience.

By and large Event Horizon is an example of a movie that is helped by its upgrade to a lossless and effective sound mix. As a lot of the movie relies on tension and small groups of characters, the ambient noise, dialogue, and effects-driven sound is crucial and the soundtrack delivers solidly on this front.

The Extras

It is always gratifying to see slightly older releases that have a good amount of quality extras. Generally you expect to see canned promotional interviews or shorts but Event Horizon has a number of worthwhile extras to supplement the experience.

  • Feature length commentary by director Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt – A quality commentary track that discusses all facets of the film such as sets, actors, scenarios, themes, and inspirations for the movie.
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  • "The Making of Event Horizon" (480p) – A 103 minute documentary that is split into five parts. This documentary series is very expansive and brings a great deal of insight into the making of the film. Everyone involved was eager and excited when discussing the film and the challenges they face. Well worth watching for casual and hardcore fans alike.
  • "Into the Jaws of Darkness" – Looking at how the film came to be.
  • "The Body of the Beast" – Analyzing the characters and actors involved in the film.
  • "Liberate Tutume Ex Infernis" – The effects, costumes, and immersive sets are discussed and explained.
  • "The Scale to Hell" – Looking at the models used to stage the scenes as well as storyboards and visual effects.
  • "The Womb of Fear" – Pulling it all together in post production, adding music and test screenings of the film.
  • "Secrets – Deleted Scenes" – Unfinished scenes and planned scenes that did not make the final cut. These include a commentary by Paul W.S. Anderson.
  • "The Unseen Event Horizon" – A look at a potential Lewis and Clark rescue sequence to intro the crew was interesting to hear about. There is also a look at some conceptual art and early CG. Both are narrated by Paul W.S. Anderson to add insight to the scenes/images.
  • "The Point of No Return" – In depth behind the scene analysis of certain key aspects of the film. Looking at some wire work, the revolving corridor and the crew discussing upcoming scenes as narrated by Paul W.S. Anderson gives you an interesting perspective to the scenes.
  • Trailers – The original theatrical trailer (in HD) and video trailer.

The Final Word

Event Horizon is a good movie given a great presentation. The quality video transfer, stellar audio mix, and above average extras help make this a Blu-ray worth owning. The movie itself is worth a second (or first) look as a darkly thrilling take on the horrors possible when man decides to re-write the natural laws of space/time to advance their goals.

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About Michael Prince

Looking at all things Geek - news, rants and updates from the worlds of gaming, tech, blu-ray, novels, and music.
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