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Event Recap: Play It By Fear’s Event Horizon Screening

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As it turns out, in space, everyone can hear you scream. The wickedness of life reaches far beyond the limits of Earth’s atmosphere, a sentiment conveyed in the hugely underrated, yet finally appreciated, sci-fi and horror classic, Event Horizon. Frida patrons were treated to a truly out-of-this-world, big screen showing of this 1997 classic on Friday, February 9th, thanks to a partnership with creepy collaborators, Play It By Fear. Buying a ticket was a one-way trip straight to… well, Hell, essentially, or rather, however you manifest your own personal hell. 

While plagued by a somewhat dispiriting title, “event horizon” is an astrophysical term that refers to the boundaries of a black hole, a natural phenomenon that is still a mostly unknown occurrence that potentially breaches realities, however many there may be. Event Horizon is powerful, heavy-handed, and provocative in the best ways possible. While channeling thematic roots from similar films like Alien, the difference between the former and the latter is the usage and handling of paranoia and the ideas of isolation and personal terror. In space, all bets are off. Space functions as a playground for all of the wicked and twisted desires that may not be fathomable on grounded earth, but the possibilities are endless upon exiting our planet’s exosphere. With that in mind, our deepest and most personal inflictions are able to be reborn again. How do I know this, you may ask? Well, you probably didn’t ask that, but outside of the great astronomers of the world, do we really know how life functions once thrust into the great abyss of nothing? Probably not.

Our plot follows Captain S. J. Miller (Laurence Fishburne) and a crew of space cadets on a voyage to investigate a distress signal from a ship named Event Horizon, which was thought to be lost, yet miraculously reappears without any trace of its former crew outside of Neptune’s orbit. Accompanying this journey is Dr. Billy Weir (Sam Neill), who is responsible for the initial gravitational design and implementation of the Event Horizon’s core unit. The only problem is that this core is more powerful than imagined and has the capacity to break through planes of existence.

Event HorizonIf you’re looking for an in-depth analysis of the inner workings related to science fiction and how our universe works, well, you won’t find it here. The mystique of this film is rooted in its abstract and borderline high-brow subject matter that requires a read along with Neil Degrasse Tyson for an entirely comprehensive understanding. Not to worry, the film’s effects, both practical and visual, help aid a cult classic to elevated status. Each crew member experiences their own version of a personal hell which manifests in physical and mental torture before ultimately perishing. 

While not my first viewing, I did a deeper dive into the background and foundation behind Event Horizon. Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, Event Horizon was a foray into more mature themes and styles from his previous films like Mortal Kombat, another cult classic. Event Horizon’s script went through several rewrites and changes, which likely marred its initial critical reception. I’m not trying to make a joke here, but it truly was ahead of its time. Pitched as “a haunted house story in space,” Event Horizon is just that and more. I overheard someone say, “That was very thought-provoking,” and it’s true. The audience is guided through a personal journey of love and loss that extends not only to the outer reaches of the solar system but also the mind. 

Sam Neill was close to pitching a perfect game in the ’90s with hits like Jurassic Park and In the Mouth of Madness, but it’s the performance of Laurence Fishburne that makes Event Horizon a film that connects on a personal level. As a hard-nosed captain, Fishburne’s ability to display genuine concern and admiration for his crew, only for it to all go downhill, shows that even the most confident and able person cannot escape their personal demons. The film takes itself very seriously, a trait that I am sometimes annoyed by; however, there is merit in its dedication to a dense and grim story that does just about everything except make you laugh. Precise editing, strong lead performances, and a surprisingly great screenplay are harmonious for a film that shouldn’t work on a surface level but has now become a fan and theater favorite.


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