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Feature
After the commercial success 1995’s surprise hit Mortal Kombat, director Paul W.S. Anderson found himself being offered a number of projects. One of those was a certain mutant superhero franchise, but Anderson wanted to take on something a bit more dark and gruesome for his next picture and Paramount obliged by sending the director a copy of the script for the sci-fi thriller Event Horizon.

Event Horizon: Special Collector's Edition
A search and rescue team in the year 2047 is sent to investigate the experimental spaceship Event Horizon, a ship missing for seven years that has suddenly reappeared in the orbit of Neptune. Upon boarding the vessel, the team, led by Capt. Miller (Laurence Fishburne) and accompanied by Dr. William Weir (Sam Neil), soon discovers that there’s something very, very wrong about the ship and the circumstances revolving around the disappearance of her crew. The ship seems to know what frightens each crewmember the most, and with visions that grow more vivid with each passing moment uses their fears against them with bloody results.

Event Horizon is basically a haunted house story set in space, and as far as basic setups go it’s a fairly unique one that offers some interesting possibilities. The problem is though, everything else about the story is generously lifted from numerous other horror and science fiction movies to the extent that the basic premise which set the movie apart in the first place is somewhat lost. Granted, many scenes are admittedly paying homage to other films, but too many of such moments can turn a few clever nods into something that borders on plagiarism, and Event Horizon teeters on that edge more than a few times.

Still, Anderson and screenwriter Philip Eisner have a good nose for when it comes to which movies to crib from, and taken as a whole Event Horizon is a pretty good if uneven ride through the funhouse with plenty of decent scares and gore galore. The eerie atmosphere created by the outstanding set design and musical score really pull the movie through some rough patches, and right up until a convoluted third act that betrays the picture’s feel for an Alien inspired ‘let’s blow the ship’ finale, it all works pretty well.

Calling Event Horizon Anderson’s best picture may seem like faint praise coming from someone who has pretty much hated every other movie he’s directed—some more than others—but it shouldn’t be taken as a slight against the movie either. It’s not the most original thing you'll ever sit on the couch and eat a bag of Doritos to, but it’s entertaining in the B-movie sort of way it more or less intends and you really can’t ask for much more than that.

Event Horizon: Special Collector's Edition
Video
Paramount has thankfully upgraded the video transfer for this edition of Event Horizon, replacing the non-anamorphic video from the first release with a brand spanking new anamorphic transfer at the film’s 2.35:1 theatrically exhibited aspect ratio for this special edition. The source print doesn’t look to be re-mastered though, so some of the problems associated with it on the previous disc, such as artefacting, are still present here, but are kept to a bare minimum. Otherwise the transfer is great, offering a very sharp and rich picture that is largely free of grain, which is somewhat of an accomplishment given the film’s dark look, while any compression artefacts, pixilation, and edge enhancement are all pretty much non-existent. Overall, the picture is much better than I had expected when I first popped the disc into my player and a welcome surprise.

Audio
Paramount has loaded this edition of Event Horizon with a number of audio track selections, including Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 tracks in English, Dolby Digital 5.1 in French, and Dolby Surround 2.0 in English along with optional English and Spanish subtitles. The best horror films all have one thing in common—their soundtracks. An effective one can turn a mediocre genre flick into a decent one with the right mix of score and sound effects, and Event Horizon certainly falls into that group of movies. The audio can be very subtle and atmospheric at times and at others add a few jolts to the picture at just the right moments, both of which add greatly to the overall experience. The Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 tracks on this disc do not disappoint in the least and are reference quality for both respective formats, utilizing all the available audio channels, from the LFE to surrounds, to good effect while keeping dialogue from the centre crisp and clear. Overall, the audio presented here is outstanding and really something to turn up the sound and turn down the lights to.

Event Horizon: Special Collector's Edition
Extras
Paramount has loaded this edition of Event Horizon with plenty of special features spread across its two discs that include an audio commentary, an extensive documentary, deleted scenes and other assorted goodies.

First up is the audio commentary accompanying the feature on disc one with director Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt. For its part, the commentary is generally good and informative, but having listened to commentaries from Anderson in the past, this ranks as probably the weakest he has done. There are a lot of gaps in the track, which more than likely has to do with the fact that it was recorded nearly ten years after the making of the movie, so the duo’s experiences on the project aren’t as fresh in their minds as they would have been had Event Horizon been made last year or if the track had been recorded soon after the production wrapped. Still, it’s definitely worth a listen and reveals enough information that you get a good sense of what went into the making of the film.

Disc two holds the rest of the extras, and first up on the menu is a five-part documentary on the making of Event Horizon that may be viewed as one feature or as separate featurettes. Each separate piece—‘Into the Jaws of Darkness’, ‘The Body of the Best’, ‘Liberate Tutume Ex Infernis’, ‘The Scale to Hell’, and ‘The Womb of Fear’—focuses on a different part of the production, namely the genesis of the project, the cast, filming and practical effects, post-production, and the editing of the film and it’s release respectively, and include new interviews with Anderson, Bolt, actor Jason Isaacs, and a number of the other folks who worked on the film.

It’s probably a good thing that the documentary is divided up this way since at a length of over 105-minutes it can get fairly dry at times, and if you’d have to watch it all in one sitting you’d probably find yourself fast-forwarding through much of it while missing out on a lot of good information. The last of the featurettes, which finds Anderson and Bolt discussing the process of testing the film before audiences and refining the film on a short deadline, is the most interesting as it shows just how much a film can change after the cameras have stopped rolling.

Event Horizon: Special Collector's Edition
Next up under the ‘Secrets’ heading on the menu are a series of three deleted scenes, with the first providing a choice between Anderson commentary or the original soundtrack and the following two providing commentary only. The first excised scene takes place early in the film and involves Sam Neil’s Dr. Weir being told of the Event Horizon’s reappearance, a scene that was wisely cut to quicken the pace of the film. The other two scenes are more or less alternate takes of existing sequences, Laurence Fishburne finding the body of Jason Isaacs and an alternate take of the final confrontation between Fishburne’s Capt. Miller and Neil’s Dr. Weir, and according to Anderson were cut to keep both the MPAA and test audiences happy. There isn’t anything eye opening about what's provided here and according to Anderson there were many other scenes that just couldn’t be found to include on the DVD, which is a shame considering that with the amount of footage reportedly cut from the film more scenes would have been interesting to see.

The next feature, entitled ‘The Unseen Event Horizon’, consists of a storyboarded sequence that would have opened the movie but was never filmed with Anderson commentary and a montage of conceptual artwork. The next extra, ‘The Point of No Return’, consists of four featurettes offering behind-the-scenes footage from the shooting of the picture. Neither of these two features are very exciting and in the case of the second very random, as if the footage was just found and cobbled together quickly for the DVD. Rounding out the rest of the disc are the movie’s original theatrical and home video release trailers.

The notion is brought up all throughout the extras that the movie didn’t quite turn out the way Anderson and Bolt expected, and when first announced the speculation was that this package would include an extended cut of the film. I know that a lot of fans were disappointed when it was revealed that the footage cut from the theatrical version wasn’t in any shape to be re-incorporated into the film, but while I’m not convinced that an extended cut would have helped it, an alternate cut of the movie’s third act may have made a difference. I think that taken as a whole, the extras in this set do a good job of providing background on the film and give a decent enough idea as to what an extended cut would have been like, and that’s good enough for me.

Event Horizon: Special Collector's Edition
Overall
Event Horizon is a fairly decent genre picture that hits most of the right notes up until its third act, and though it may not be the most original genre flick out there, is a mostly enjoyable thriller with a few jump-in-your-seat moments and enough blood and guts to satiate the gore hounds amongst us. Paramount Home Entertainment’s new, two-disc Special Collector’s Edition, which features a great picture and sound combination and just the right amount of extras on its second disc, is a real treat, and quite honestly probably more than what the film really deserves compared to the treatment given other, better films released out of Paramount’s library. If you haven’t seen the picture you may want to give it a shot and this edition is the perfect way to do just that, while those of you looking to upgrade from the previous release should go ahead and do so—there’s no question the second go around is worth it.


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