Paul W.S. Anderson has evolved into something of a film geek whipping boy, of late, raising the ire of fandom with his mediocre Resident Evil films, as well as his much-maligned stab at the Aliens vs. Predator franchise. Lost in all of this, however, is Anderson's magnificent 1996 sci-fi/horror opus, Event Horizon, which, in my opinion, still stands as one of the most unique and thorougly frightening films of the 90's.
The Event Horizon is an experimental spaceship designed to zip through space in the blink of an eye, thanks to an engine that allows it to “fold space” by creating a manageable black hole. However, something went wrong (doesn’t it always?) and the Event Horizon disappeared.
The ship’s designer, the tortured Dr. Weir (Neil), receives word that, after seven years, his creation has reappeared, and is assigned to a salvage operation aboard the rescue ship Lewis & Clark. The crew of the Clark, led by Miller (Fishburne), is understandably frightened when they encounter the behemoth that is the Event Horizon. However, that’s nothing compared to what they encounter once they step onboard. Hallucinations, ghosts of the past, and Weir's growing obsession with his creation threaten to undermine the mission, as, one by one, the crew of the Clark succumb to the horrors that the ship has brought back with it from the other side.
Event Horizon is an effective and enjoyable shocker that blends classic elements of gothic horror with hardcore science fiction in the vein of "Solaris", "Silent Running" and even "2001" (although not nearly as cerebral). While director Anderson borrows bits from his favorite flicks, he does so with the intentions of a hardcore aficionado of the genre, and offers up enough of his own original material to make Event Horizon a film others will surely borrow from in the years to come (look no further than Danny Boyle's recent "Sunshine").
Sure the film has its shortcomings; stilted dialogue, ill-advised attempts at humor, some stiff performances, and occasionally flawed and aged CGI work, but the presence of actors like Fishburne and Neill - as well as Brit cinema stalwarts, Sean Pertwee and Jason Isaacs - really class things up nicely.
How does Event Horizon look on Blu-ray? In a word; astonishing. I've seen this film more times than I can count, but I've never seen it look this good. The level of detail here is simply amazing. I swear, if I froze the image I could count the rivets in the Clark's hull. Facial detail is superb, and the skin tones are consistent and natural (the special edition DVD always looked a little "hot" to me). The abundant blacks are lush and well balanced, with nary a hint of digital noise, compression artifacts, and only the slightest amount of cinematic grain. I realize that, at 12 years old, Event Horizon isn't exactly ancient, but I didn't expect the transfer to be so drop dead gorgeous.
Equally as impressive is the 5.1 Dolby True HD soundtrack. This sucker is LOUD! The opening sequence of the film features a fly-by of the Event Horizon, ending with the ship's thrusters, and the gradual rumble built up to a floor-shaking crescendo. There are several scenes where I was literally jumping out of my seat from the potent bass response, but the mix is very well balanced and I had no problems hearing every bit of dialogue and subtle sound effect even when watching at a reduced volume. This mix also makes great use of the rears, with some truly creepy discrete effects and an all around immersive surround experience.
Extras are all carryovers from the Special Edition DVD, but their great extras nonetheless. The feature length commentary with director, Anderson, and producer, Jeremy Bolt, is entertaining and informative, and goes a long way towards explaining why we've never seen (and probably never will see) that long rumored director's cut we've been hearing about for a decade-plus.
The Making of Event Horizon offers five featurettes that add up to a feature's worth of behind-the-scenes information about the production, and answer pretty much the rest of the questions one could have about the film after the commentary.
Secrets gives us some deleted and extended scenes (in very rough quality), storyboards, and even more commentary, while the The Unseen Event Horizon showcases a pair of unfilmed scenes in storyboard format (with optional commentary)
The Point of No Return consists of a three-part documentary that features rehearsal footage, a look at the filming of the fireball sequence, and more.
Rounding out the extras is the original theatrical trailer (in HD).
While it's admittedly a little rough around the edges at times, Event Horizon is still one of my favorite horror flicks of the 90's, and I just can't say enough good things about Paramount's handling of this title on Blu-ray. The film looks and sounds better than I could have ever imagined, and the decision to include all of the great bonus features from the Special Edition DVD make it an easy decision for those wondering whether or not they should shell out the dough for the upgrade. If you're a fan of this movie, this is the edition you need to get.