Welcome to the Heavy Spoilers show I’m your host Paul and this video we’re breaking down the classic movie Event Horizon. Calisto Protocol and The Dead Space Remake has got me fiending for some survival horror in space so I thought I’d revisit the movie that inspired them both.
Though the film was a critical and commercial flop at the time it’s gained a massive following and I think that’s because it’s something that pretty much burrowed into the brains of every kid who watched it. Back in 1997 this was my first real experience of something that pushed the limits of body horror this much and I think it had the same effect on a lot of people. We’re all grown up now and this movie has probably gained a cult following due to it scaring us as kids in a way that left a lasting impression.
Director Paul WS Anderson ended up working with Kurt Russell on the movie Soldier immediately after this and naturally he felt down about the film underperforming.
However Russell said:
“Forget about what this movie’s doing now. In 15 years’ time, this is going to be the movie you’re glad you made.”
And I’m glad he made it too.
Throughout this video we’re gonna be going through all the creepy details and things within it that really elevate the movie and hopefully this helps you to appreciate it even more. Now when researching films like this I try and track down the origins for them and see what laid the seeds for the ideas we see on screen.
Screenwriter Philip Eisner appeared on the Over hated Movies Podcast and he said that he came up with the idea for the film when watching The Shining. The Stanley Kubrick Classic is one of my favourite films of all time and in case you haven’t seen it, itcentres around a family put in charge of looking after a haunted hotel for the winter. Due to poor weather conditions, there’s no escape and Eisner said that he very much wanted to do a haunted house movie in space.
What is an event horizon?
The Event Horizon was something you couldn’t just run out of and leave and you were trapped on there, plagued with visions of hell and completely at its mercy. Another thing Eisner talked about was how space is very much hell as well.
Humans can’t survive in it and if you ever find yourself stuck in space then you’d doomed to have an agonising death as your lungs implode and the moisture in your body freezes.
These were the building blocks for the movie but it’s also clear that the writer took inspiration from real-life Ghost Ships. The Mary Celeste is probably the most famous of these and it was discovered adrift in the ocean with it’s crew completely missing. There was no sign of a struggle and similar to the event horizon it left an eerie sight that left a question for centuries over what really happened on it.
Now we start off with the Paramount logo before transitioning into space.
I absolutely love the way the movie does this and it takes something calm and peaceful looking and instantly gives us this feeling of danger.
There were hopes that we’d get a director’s cut of the movie with extra footage but unfortunately when they went to salvage this they found that Paramount hadn’t been looking after it. We’ll talk about what was in these deleted scenes later on but for better or worse this is the only cut we’ll ever get.
Now from here go from what appears to be a black hole that then transforms into an eye. As we go further into it the lines appear almost like a tunnel leading towards the dark centre. This is very important iconography and it’s something that repeats throughout the film.
The gravity drive on the Event Horizon is a black hole that too appears like an eye. Around it are rings and in order to get there one has to travel through a bridge which sort of acts like a tunnel. When crafting the design of the ship, the creative team took a lot of inspiration from the cathedral in Notre Damme and it was built to have this gothic look to it conjuring up demonic imagery. In order to get to the drive itself the passengers also have to travel through a smaller tunnel lined with razor sharp spinning rings. This was done to resemble the nine circles of hell from Dante’s inferno. In order to get to the centre one had to pass through this.
The work contains black holes which inspired the film and it also has Latin inscriptions above gateways which say abandon hope all ye who enter.
This is thought to translate to Save Me.
However it’s misheard, with its use here actually meaning Save Yourself.
Now as we mentioned earlier the drive being like an eye is also very important.
It gives the impression that something is constantly watching and it very much reflects the saying that when one stares into the abyss the abyss stares back. This is very much a black hole at the centre of a ship that has the ability to create black holes.
Eyes are also something that are constantly brought up throughout the film. At the end of the film Dr. Weir says that we’re going we won’t need eyes to see. Now an event horizon in scientific terms is something that is central to a black home and it’s linked to the escape velocity that you’d to escape one. Black Holes have a gravity pull that means it’s almost impossible to escape one. Light can’t even get out of one and this is why black holes look black. They’re completely absent of light and as we need light to see the characters wouldn’t need eyes when they travel into one.
When does Event Horizon take place?
From here we get a rundown of mans achievements since 1997.
What’s that say….2015 first permanent colony on the moon….ooof alright Marty McFly.
2032 had mining on Mars and in 2040 the Event Horizon was launched.
Now obviously for some reason in the 80s and 90s we had a much more optimistic view of what humanity would be able to achieve in the next 40 years. Back To The Future was of course one and don’t even get me started on Blade Runner thinking what 2019 would be like.
Obviously the creators thought things would go better than they did and this is actually reflected in the uniforms as well. When creating them Sam Neill actually requested that the union Jack on his Australian Flag should be replaced by an Aboriginal one to show that they’d gained independence from the British.
The US flag also has 55 stars on it and the one for the EU has 22.
Obviously it’s not 2047 yet but ey, fingers crossed we can all come together.
Anyway we then get some text that discusses the Event Horizon itself. Known as the worst space disaster on record the ship was created to explore the boundaries of our solar system.
It disappeared without a trace by Neptune and we discover that is has been sighted once more above the planet having returned from where it came from. The public were told a lie and the official story said that the reactor went critical which is when it self destructed. This was to cover up the fact that they were attempting to create faster than light travel which would break the laws of relativity.
In the movie we discover that the wormhole that the drive opened actually created a gateway to hell itself and doorways like this have appeared throughout myths and legends.
Concocted during Medieval times it was believed that doorways to Hell could be opened and that Satan and the souls of the damned would transport them to hell. Ouija boards are thought to be able to lower the barrier and even in films like Rosemary’s baby we get the notion that a gateway can be created.
Medieval imagery is laced throughout the movie and though we can’t show it because of YouTube strict demonetisation policies a lot of the torture devices are based on those created in the middle ages.
Notre Damme itself was completed in the 1300s and we of course hear Latin throughout the film when the passengers return from hell. This was all done to tie our own dark ages into futuristic space travel and I love the way they’ve melded the past and future.
The idea of eyes is hammered home when we see the ship and behind it we can catch the Eye of Neptune which acts almost like it’s watching the ship.
As mentioned earlier the event Horizon would go onto inspire Games like Dead space and watching it drift past the camera gave me a lot of feelings of the Ishimura.
We then cut to the ship itself and can once more see that large rings line the walkway.
Here we pass a watch which is an Omega Speed master. This was actually the wristwatch that was worn on the first American space walk which is such a cool little easter egg.
Now here we catch Dr. Weir floating and this is done Infront of a cross symbol to evoke crucifixion imagery. It turns out that this is a dream that he’s having and this actually plays into the ending of the film. Though some people manage to survive Starck has a vision where she thinks the rescue crew is headed up by none other than Dr. Weir. This being put in place to mirror the opening lends to the possibility that they might not have escaped the ship at all and it may be pulling them back just like how it did with Dr. Weir.
I don’t think that’s the case but I just thought I’d bring it up just in case.
Now Weir is haunted by the guilt he feels over his wife taking her own life. Guilt is something that is prevalent throughout the film and the three characters that are harmed by the ship directly all suffer from this. On top of Weir, Peters is a character that’s taken by the ship. She carries the guilt of her broken marriage and also the fact she left her son on Earth.
We discover that Miller tried to have her replaced so she could stay and look after her sick son but the transfer didn’t go through in time. Her death could be something he later feels responsible for and it’s clear she feels she abandoned her ill child.
She’s tormented with visions of him and the spectre very much represents the guilt she’s carrying.
Lastly is Captain Miller played by Laurence Fishburne. We discover that he abandoned a past crew member and that they ended up burning to death in space which was agonising. He still feels guilt over this and his sacrifice at the end is very much him atoning for that loss by staying behind like the shipmate that he lost had to.
Now it is possible that Starck may carry guilt over this and feel like she abandoned him which is why she gets the vision
It’s important to bear in mind that each person killed by the ship had something to atone for and this may be why she sees Weir at the end.
Anyway Weir walks about his room and we see a shrine of photos dedicated to his wife. Weirdly there’s two of the same ones here and what you got photos for mate, didn’t they have iPhones in 2047. Didn’t redact that did you opening crawl!
He looks at the bath tub which we discover she drowned in and later on he’ll be basked in water surrounded by the opposite to it in fire. This represents the fires of hell and water and fire are of course opposites.
Weir opens his blinds and we hear this sound.
Easter eggs in Event Horizon
This was actually taken from the video game Doom which is of course also heavily linked to Hell.
Now from here we get a one take shot of Daylight station. Initially we start off with an upside down view of Weir before we pull out and get a rotating shot of the entire station before we see it in all it’s glory above earth.
We’ve had to speed it up here otherwise YouTube will flag the footage but it’s an incredible piece of CGI that really elevates the movie. What you probably don’t know is that this 45 second shot actually cost a third of the films entire budget.
He reports to the Lewis and Clark which is where we meet the rest of the crew.
This shot also does something similar to the prior one but instead we zoom in on the ship. VFX artist Sue Rowe said it was the most difficult shot she’s ever worked on and it involved lining up different model shots and passes with footage using real actors.
Now the name Lewis and Clark was chosen for a specific reason and it’s meant to mirror the Event Horizon. Lewis and Clark carried out an expedition across America and they mapped out most of the West during the 1800s. The Event Horizon is of course setting off on it’s own expedition into uncharted territory within worm holes.
This is very much a search and rescue mission and you can actually see the US Coast Guard racing stripe painted on it. The crew also have a shield on their lapels which too is a symbol of the coast guard. As mentioned earlier the Event Horizon is based on ghost ships so this coast guard inclusion is really smart.
Alongside Justin we also meet Smith played by Sean Pertwee. Carrying on the religious imagery he also draws a sign of the cross on his chest before the crew get up and leave.
Now at this point we get some subtle coffin imagery as Miller walks through one of the doorways. You may notice that the opening is shaped like a Coffin and this is something that repeats throughout the film at several points.
You can also catch an Ankh tattoo on Smiths back which is supposed to represent life.
We then see as a moon passes in front of Neptune again creating this eye imagery before we cut to Weird who has a nightmare that he wakes up and finds his wife with her eyes missing. Before he spins round the chair we actually get a reflection of her face in a screen and if you look along the top of it you can catch a pair of eyes. I almost pooped my pants when I first noticed these and it gives this feeling that you’re constantly being watched.
Now his wife very much inspired Nicole in Dead Space and just in the same way that she appeared in visions his wife does too. Dead Space even somewhat took the ending of this movie with us getting a jumps care from Nicole whereas here it’s of course Weir.
From here we cut to a video of Denny’s birthday party. Like…look at this clown mate…f**k me…try telling me this isn’t a horror movie.
They sit around the table chatting away which is clearly riffing on the dinner scene from Alien.
We can see that Cross also wears a crucifix and we meet Cooper and TJ….is that….is that Lucius Malfoy.
Anyway Weir explains how wormholes work and he does this by using a piece of paper and pencil. This is something that has been used in several other films and it appeared in Interstellar and more recently in Thor Love And Thunder.
We discover that they were attempting to reach Proxima Centuri which in reality is one of the closest sun to our own. This has it’s own system of planets that could potentially one day allow us to inhabit it again tying into this idea of it being an expedition.
They discover the ship after a bit of trouble and we see a little toy bear fall off one of the computers. I’m reaching, reaching, reaching, but Justin goes by the nickname Baby Bear and Peters goes by the name Momma bear and both fall…so….
Anyway they look at the ship through a periscope and this contains text from the Compartmental Destruction of Radiotracers as well as parts of the IBM 7094 mainframe computer. They come across the docking bay and we can see Roman numerals on it. These give the number 13 which is of course thought to be unlucky.
The team suit up and head in and if you checked out our breakdown of Arrival last week then you’ll know we talked about how the Hazmat suits on the ship were CGI.
This was to help the actors act like they were in space but in 1997 they didn’t have that kind of motion tracking and technology.
The suits were extremely heavy and in between takes the crew had to be suspended on poles to take the weight off them. Eightieskids.com said that Eisner visited the set Laurence Fishburne shouted “you’re Eisner you did this to me” and he quickly left.
We also see the suits clamp down with magnetic boots and again this heavily inspired Isaac Clarks suit in Dead Space.
Justin makes his way into the core and I dunno if I’d be walking into a room with spikes on the doors like that but moving on.
Peters discover a corpse with it’s eyes out and cuts across his face and this is something that Weir later ends up doing showing how the ship needs a member of the crew that it can use to carry out it’s will.
The Gravity drive activates and it pulls Justin whilst sending out a shockwave. This causes the Lewis and Clark to overload and thus the crew have to go onto the Event Horizon.
Slowly they piece together what happened on it and we see Weird explaining how the gravity drive works.
He stares at it with the circles seeming almost like eyes that are then reflected in his own. Peters discovers the final log which plays what happened when they opened the gravity drive. This unleashed hell and the footage we get here, you know what I’m gonna say, can’t show it on YouTube. It’s on Reddit though and if you click the more comments on the pinned one I’ll leave you a link to where you can go see the images and then come back. If not though I’ve left a recreation of all the messed up moments.
Everything on screen for a split second and it’s a montage of messed up moments that have some of the sickest body horror I’ve ever seen. There’s also the captain who holds a pair of eyes in his hands tying into the fact that that they don’t need them to see in hell.
Weir then crawls into the maintenance tunnels and we get a scene similar to Alien. These cramped conditions create claustrophobia and eventually he’s grabbed by a vision of his wife. Miller sees the crew member he left behind and this ends up foreshadowing why Weir takes on this form at the end of the movie.
Starck concurs that the ship is indeed alive now and Eisner said he took inspiration from the Haunting by making the location just as unnerving as the events we see playing out on it.
After lying comatose with his eyes open Justin gets up and goes to the airlock.
This scene is so tense as we have a countdown going on knowing that he’s about to be thrown into space, a locked room that Starck is trying to get open and also Miller racing towards him in space. Each one of these is against the clock with them desperate to stop what we know is about to happen.
Miller manages to save him but it’s clear the guy has gone through hell.
After hearing the voice of his doomed crew member, Miller sits down with DJ and he tells him about what happened. I love this shot of the two corridors with them almost creating a feeling of a face. The way they wrap around makes them appear like eyes silently watching in the background as the story plays out.
Miller says that fire in space washes over someone like water and this further ties the two elements together like what we talked about earlier.
Event Horizon Ending Explained
On the outer hull Smith and Cooper fix up the ship which is when Weir begs them to stay. He disappears into the shadows after saying the ship won’t let them leave which is when it all goes down.
In a similar scene to Alien we watch two crew members getting supplies and fleeing the ship. However it powers up and tricks Peters into returning after she sees a vision of her son and we get the gravity drive reflected in her eye. As she runs through the tunnel we can also see that this looks like an eye itself with the light being a pupil and the tunnel being the iris.
She climbs up a ladder and we see doorways shaped like coffins around her. Her son also stands in a coffin shaped doorway and this leads to her falling to her death. This vision of guilt is also given mirrored in Weir who has a vision of his wife’s death before she pushes his eyes out.
This allows him to see the truth and he starts to kill the other crew members. Onboard the Lewis and Clark he places one of the explosives and Smith discovers this before it detonates. Now Smith could’ve actually stopped this as he had 6 seconds left and we see a big disarm button…big disarm button right there mate.
I love how Cooper actually survives this and with his boots he stays attached to the hull and blasts himself back to the ship by purging his air tank. Again Dead Space 2 did something similar to this when you finished realigning the solar panels and had to get yourself back to Titan Station.
DJ is cut open and left with his guts hanging out and the creative team said that this was a reference to silence of the lambs novel which was later brought into Hannibal. Miller finds Starck on the bridge and Weir now sits in the captains chair. He ends up activating the gravity drive which gives them ten minutes to get off the ship.
Cooper makes it back and he distracts Weir so that Miller can escape and after the window is blown out we watch as everything gets sucked into space. Again Dead Space 2 had rooms like this and its such a cool effect watching everything get pulled out. Weir is pulled out and this very much riffs on the dream that he had at the start of the movie.
Cooper makes it back onboard the ship and they plan to blow it.
TDRS stands for Tracking and Data Relay Satellite which would be the first thing to make contact with them.
The ships walls then start to bleed with blood running along the lights and then filling up the main chamber. This comes crashing out in what’s a clear reference to the elevator scene in The Shining.
Miller is knocked into the gravity drive by what appears to be his friend but this is really weir.
He detonates the explosives trapping himself in with Weir and this ending is something that has always stuck with me. Guy has just damned himself to suffer in hell for eternity and he gets sucked into the planet after Weird constantly says Do You See, Do You See.
This is possibly also a reference to Red Dragon which ties in with the Silence Of The Lambs book from before.
The lifeboat manages to make it out of there and we watch as the event horizon is pulled into the planet to a fate unknown.
We close out with the crew being rescued but with this part of the ship still remaining we don’t know if the nightmare is truly over. It depends if you see the ship as being alive or not and whether it’s linked to the gravity drive or the life boat is detached. Weir promises that the crew are all coming with him and this vision could just be a final scare or it may hint to something sinister going on.
I’ll leave that up to you to decide and as for the deleted scenes these were cut from the film because test audiences reacted negatively to them and it spooked Paramount. As we mentioned they didn’t take care of them and they’ve been lost to time.
The gore was turned up to 11 with the compilation being extended to show a woman with her mouth being held open by clamps and a man drilling into her teeth. This scene is extended for the end as well with us getting far more scenes of the torture that weir shows Miller.
There’s bits where Starck is being crucified on a metal bench with barb wire wrapped around her head almost like a crown, maggots across peoples chests and a bit of let’s say…romance.
We also had a nod to the exorcist in which Reagan walked backwards down the stairs like a spider. Instead of Regan though Weir would do this completely nude after the shining blood scene.
They crew would also discuss their fears too with DJ explaining that the scars on his body were from childhood operations. Peter would also see her sons legs covered in maggots and all in all the horror scenes were slightly more intense.
Anyway that wraps up the movie and our breakdown. I had a blast going back through this and I hope you saw somethings you hadn’t noticed before. If you enjoyed it please drop a thumbs up and make sure you subscribe for videos like this every day. If you wanna watch our breakdown of Arrival that will be linked on screen right now and hopefully you’ve been enjoying these trips through older movies. The next movie I wanna tackle is The Shining so keep an eye out for that.
With that out the way, thanks for clicking this, I hope you enjoy the rest of your week, take care, and peace.
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