Paul W.S. Anderson will never win an Academy Award. Still, he’s got a knack for mindless, lightweight horror and action with mainstream blockbuster-y tendancies. Event Horizon is easily his most uncompromising Hollywood film, a dark, unsettling work with some fairly graphic imagery (including a topless Sam Neill). It came out the year before the similarly plotted Sphere but takes a much more horror-inclined approach (both seemingly influenced by the 1972 sci-fi drama Solaris).
The title refers to the name of a space ship that jumps into another dimension and brings back something…evil. No, not undead Jesse Helms; something worse…barely. While Sam Neill starts out as the central figure in the story, it’s Laurence Fishburne who ends up as the main “hero” we’re rooting for — one of the few starring roles of a career that deserved more of the spotlight than it got. He’s a no-nonsense ship captain — though not a typical shallow, barking black authority figure type who sits on the sidelines while the star gets the glory — playing it low-key, making his delivery of the best line of the film all the more hilarious: after watching a gore-laden video of what happened to the ship’s previous crew, he mutters, “We’re leaving.” Richard T. Jones, meanwhile, plays comic-relief crew member Cooper, who despite the racial odds, survives.