Pros: The special effects are reasonably good.
Cons: Cliches left and right, bad sound design, no real science, bad story, & uninteresting characters.
I have long been a fan of science fiction films, both the classic b-movie kind from the 1950s and 1960s to the (mostly) spectacular Star Trek and original trilogy Star Wars movies. When I read the summary on Event Horizon I thought it sounded pretty good. But there was another sci-fi film that looked good on paper, Disney's The Black Hole, but that ultimately felt like it belonged in the 1960s instead of the end of the 70s.
Anyway, I felt there was another chance for a good film embodied in Event Horizon, but instead I felt cheated by a very crummy haunted house in space. This is probably the worst sci-fi/horror movie I've come across created in the 90s. I don't even know where to begin. Basically it's a bunch of sci-fi and horror movie cliches sloppily mashed together. Right from the beginning it's painfully obvious what's going to happen. We've seen it so many times before. The crew gets called on rescue mission, arrives at spooky empty ship, things go wrong, lots of people die horrible deaths, one member bravely sacrifices their life to save the others, and ultimately some people survive to the end.
While I can enjoy a cheap horror flick every now and again I had expected so much more from this movie. But since this isn't really sci-fi we slipped to a low grade horror in which the characters are paper thin. You don't feel bad about any of them dying because you don't know a thing about them. Watching the movie I just found frequently glances at the clock waiting for everyone to be killed so the end credits would roll. The acting in Event Horizon is fine, it's not bad, but there's nothing enjoyable or outstanding coming from the actors.
One thing that worked reasonably well in this movie were the special effects. They look quite good for 1997 and at least you don't see actors hanging from wires or anything like that. Space looks like space, the ship looks like it could really by traveling around out there, and the sets for the most part look like they could be on board a spacecraft in the future. The effects do get a little iffy once the horror takes center stage, but nothing makes you feel like everything is made from cardboard suspended from wires.
Since I was duped into believing this was really a sci-fi movie I was extremely disappointed in the fact that science is actually non-existent in this science fiction film. What happened to the gravity on Neptune? They enter the atmosphere to reach the Event Horizon yet there is not a bit of gravity. The design of the ship itself, I felt, was incredibly stupid, basically it's just meant to look edgy and scary instead of functional. Something like that would not be suitable for travel through space, let alone into a planet's atmosphere. Later on one of the crew members magically survives the Lewis and Clark being destroyed, escapes the atmosphere of Neptune, and somehow manages to re-enter the atmosphere safely and rendezvous with the Event Horizon simply venting his oxygen supply. That's just plan ludicrous.
Another thing that really bothered me was the surprisingly bad sound design done on the film. The movie is filled with sound effects from Doom (doors opening for example) and none of the effects used fit with the action on screen. The ships breaking apart, debris smashing into objects, it's all messy and just doesn't feel realistic. Granted, you wouldn't hear sound in space, and who knows what things would sound like involving futuristic technology in the atmosphere of Neptune, but other sci-fi films have done a good job to at least feel proper.
Summing up how I feel about this movie, it's no surprise that this movie flopped badly at the box office. It's just a huge mess mashed together and thrown out there. It's not a good horror movie, it's not a good sci-fi, and it's not at all original. I imagine other people going to see the film may have felt the same. Surprisingly though, this film is developing a bit of a cult status among people who praise its horror elements so it did click with some people, but certainly not with me.