22 November 2011

Event Horizon, Moon, Sunshine and Pandorum

A somewhat overdue review of these 4 movies. While I was sick some month ago I had a movie marathon with a "space horror" theme and another with a vampire theme. This review will be about the space horror. Not all of these 4 movies could be considered a pure horror movie, though they all capture that nice feeling of complete isolation in space that makes me like this kind of movies. You also have to consider exactly what "horror is". Does it need to be a maniac chasing you with a machete or chainsaw, or is it enough to make disturbing realizations about yourself and your environment? I think movies that don't rely on jump scares but rather build up this weird atmosphere are often a lot more interesting to watch. Moon certainly fits that category quite well although it is billed as a "myster sci-fi" on IMDB.

Anyway let's start with the "no brainers" and work our way towards the really good stuff :-)

Event Horizon
This is probably the purest "horror" movie of this bunch. A spaceship called the Event Horizon performs an experiment to travel faster than light through a wormhole and disappears only to reappear a couple of years later at the very fringes of reachable distance from Earth. A rescue operation is scrambled to investigate what happened to the ship and the crew. The crew of the rescue ship picks up a weird transmission in latin, but the transmission is distorted and they can't really make out what is really said. So as they arrive they find the Event Horizon stranded in space, powered down and no crew to be seen.

The rescue crew is not completely stupid, they have suspicions and a bad feeling but there is no real proof as to what had happened to this ship, why it disappeared and where the crew could be. There is a nice buildup, and once the bad shit goes down it remains a fairly interesting above average movie. The acting is competent, as is the setting and effects, but I still felt that this movie lacked something that would make it a really good one.

This could be because I watched both Sunshine and Pandorum before I watched this movie, and it becomes clear that those other movies had been inspired by this one a lot, but improved the forumla a little. Overall a pretty decent movie, but I do recommend watching this one first - which is also why I put the review of it first in line.

This movie was surprisingly intriguing and rather unpredictable. The summary of the backstory is that earth was facing some kind of annihilation so they packed people tightly on a cargo ship and sent it towards the nearest habitable planet so that humankind could survive and restart.

The thing however is that this habitable planet was so far away that the crew had to operate the ship in shifts while the passengers and the crew not currently working remained in stasis chambers. The movie starts with two crewmen waking up to a malfunctioning ship. No current crew to greet them and brief them on the situation. The door to their chamber is also bolted shut so they can't get out of there.

They try to figure out what the hell is going on, and one of them sets out to find a way through the air ducts around the blocked door and open it from the other side while also turning on the power. What faces him outside of the secure stasis chamber is a mutated lord of the flies situation that is pretty vague and unexplained for most of the movie.

The title Pandorum, is the name of a disease suffered by those travelling in space for long periods of time. The disease makes manifests itself with hallucinations and schizophrenia. Thus the movie juggles all those things happening in a pretty good way and keeps you wondering what parts are real and which ones are not pretty much to the very end.

The only critique I have is that one of the survivors aboard the ship is clearly inspired by "Alice" from Resident Evil movies. She gets at least one silly "girl power" scene but I don't think it ruins the movie as a whole.

While not a masterpiece I was pleasantly surprised. It is better than Even Horizon imo.

I'm not a Danny Boyle fan as such, I think he is incredibly pretentious. The couple of movies I like that he has done are "Trainspotting", "28 days later" and "Sunshine". And I actually like Sunshine a lot. It's a very moody and atmospheric movie about the second attempt to "kickstart the sun" which is dying and leaving earth a frozen wasteland.

The movie is about the second expedition, the first one had apparently failed and contact was lost with them. It is also the last possible expedition as the resources aboard the ship that is made up a huge bomb are the last scraps of resources available for any such attempt. The crew are scientists pretty much going on a suicide run towards the sun. The first half us incredibly well done. Depicting the mindset of those people, giving insight into the mission and the everyday life on this pretty much "one way" trip.

The cinematography in combination with the music is stunning. There are lots of scenes that just give you goosebumps. Like one scene where two guys have to take a space walk to repair a broken reflective panel to prevent the ship from incinerate from the sunshine. The situation that unfolds and the dialogue during that scene is just fantastic.

Halfway through, the movie takes a sudden turn into more conventional horror movie territory and kind of loses a bit of the perfect mood. It still remains a visually stunning and overall good movie however, with great characters and cast.

This is a mind-blowing small budget indie movie about a lonely guy working on a mining station on the moon. The deal is that you sign a contract to work for a set number of years in a row, and his contract is nearing its end when one of the mining machines breaks down and he goes out with his space buggy to take a look.

This movie has 2 stars. Sam Rockwell playing the worker and playing in the movie by himself for most part - he does a fantastic job. And Kevin Spacey who is the voice of the creepy space station artificial intelligence computer GERTY. Brilliantly (and creepy) complete with smiley faces to show "emotions". You can only compare this character to HAL from 2001 A space odyssey (the only good part with that movie....), but GERTY is a lot better with a lot more "character" than HAL ever had.

It is hard to write about this movie because the plot is easy to spoil but I can't recommend it enough if you aren't turned off a rather slow first half. I think the movie had a budget of just 5 million dollars, and I don't know how they managed to make it look like a real hollywood production. The sets are great, the effects are fantastic and the outdoor scenes on the moon are believable and look great. The ending sequence is very gripping. I liked this movie the most out of all 4 mentioned in this group review.


  1. Liked Sunshine and Pandorum, not keen on Event Horizon but yet to see Moon.

  2. Yeah as I said Event Horizon is the weakest movie out of this bunch, I can't really put a finger on why it fails to be really good.

    I really recommend Moon though :-)

  3. I wanted to see Moon and forgot about it. Event Horizon was ok, I went and saw it when it came out at the movies. I think I had just gotten over a flu or virus. Curious to watch the other two as well.

  4. LOVED Moon, Enjoyed Sunshine, EH was so-so despite the headline actors. Will check out Pandorum- thanks for that!

  5. Seen Pandorum and Moon; for me two of the best horror movies precisely because of your points; the terror is rooted far deeper than with all the "jumper" flicks.

    As a thematic entry, I'd also suggest Apollo 18. What starts as a potential "jumper" gradually builds up on the idea as the astronauts learn what is happening.

  6. Moon was amazing, one of the best character driven dramas that just happens to be a sci-fi movie. Pandorum was a unexpected delight, and my favorite "trapped in space" movie since the original Alien. Sunshine had it's moments but overall seemed to be missing something for me. Event Horizon was much the same to me, what a concept though.

  7. Seen all except Pandorum. Thanks for the tip. I agree, Moon was brilliant (directed by David Bowie's son, no less) and Sunshine, on the whole, was very good as well.

  8. Seen all 4 and agree with your review.

  9. Just watched Pandorum based on your recommendation and really enjoyed it - thanks mate!


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