Event Horizon (1997)

Through a combination of luck, some talent, and an atypical level (for him) of applied artistic brilliance, the bozo who helped bring you the Resident Evil films and Mortal Kombat (1995) was also responsible, once upon a time, for a forgotten cult classic that ranks among some of the absolute best horrors not only of the 90s but the next two decades as well.

The details of the plot are of close to zero importance except to say it somewhat rips off Alien (1979) and Hellraiser (1987). If you’ve seen Alien, you’ve seen the opening stanza to this film but this only serves as a ruse to lull you into an expectation for science fiction. There isn’t much science but what’s there is accurate enough for its time, though not expounded through the “scientific method.” The nods to Hellraiser aren’t subtle either but Event Horizon somehow manages to step into a unique model of metaphysics that is undoubtedly horrific and more visceral.

Hellraiser, a cult classic that’s more cult than classic, ends up being fairly conventional despite promising much, not because of the low budget and dated special effects but through its lack of existential weight. For all its brilliant imagery and clever storytelling, it ultimately wants to be conventional. The bad guys are easy to identify and held at a distance while escape from pain is never really in doubt. Event Horizon has no such problems, despite being made by a dolt. A dolt who nevertheless stretched his own limits and through that frenzied struggle found a deeper vision of hell where victims (and therefore viewers) feel a far greater sense of unjust torture with scant hope of escape. Make no mistake, this is a horror masterpiece.