You know you’ve got them. Everyone does: Movies you’re ashamed to admit you like, much less own. We’re not talking about those late night movies you watch when no one thinks you’re looking– we’re talking about bonafide theatrical releases pummeled by critics with the left-right-uppercut combo of loathing and disgust. We’re talking about movies your friends pull off your shelf and say, “What the heck/*expletive*!?” The movies you know you’ll be mocked for and unapologetically watch anyway. Some come down the pipe via populist backlash (IE-Titanic). Some are gold wrapped in platinum stuffed in a rusty aluminum box. Some are just plain terrible. But that doesn’t matter. We’re making no apologies and it’s time to kick that shame right where it counts.
Introducing the Showcase of Shame: a spotlight on films we’re not ashamed (er…maybe a little) to say we like in one way or another—in no particular order, of course. Sure, you might make fun of us, but we know you’ve got your own list. And it’s hidden quietly under your mattress.
Event Horizon (1997)
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Laurence “Neoooooooooooo!” Fishburne, Sam “Dr. Grant” Neill, Joely “You Know Me if You Watch TV” Richardson, a pokey spaceship and 3200 gallons of blood substitute.
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. — Stephen Hunter, Washington Post
The concept was good. Take The Shining, add a squeeze of Alien‘s grubby space travel, a half cup of Solaris with a dash of The Omen and unleash hellish horror in space. Unfortunately, scenes meant as homage (a room gushing blood) feel unoriginal and un-scary. As a whole, all the ingredients thrown into Event Horizon add up to an unfulfilling kettle of crap goulash, sealed with a perfunctory, scantly explained (“We’ll tell you what happened in a few throwaway lines of dialogue so we can get back to the bloodletting– just take our word for it, mmmkay?”) third act.
And yet… YET…
…it’s not that the whole movie is terrible. The premise, while unabashedly derivative of better works, is a fun one: The Haunted Mansion in space. Ok, that’s cool, even if it was a detour from the original script’s Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within alien ghost premise. There’s at least an attempt to flesh out some of the characters (most notably the character arc Laurence Fishburne’s steadfast Captain Miller endures). And while the oft-maligned director Paul W.S. Anderson cuts his post-Mortal Combat teeth here by ejecting explanation in favor of more time with disturbing images and flesh rending…
…oh, the Joseph Bennett production design! The “I’ll laugh in the face of your science!” setting of Neptune’s upper atmosphere! The creepy docking/ship exploration sequence, the airlock rescue… and that production design! Prickly, cold, glowing and forebodingly detailed, the medieval-tech “haven’t quite seen that before” approach to Event Horizon’s production design rescues the third act by retaining a notable re-watchability factor… even if it is a little shameful.
*To which the video game Dead Space owes two beers and a cheeseburger.