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Pandorum (2009) -vs- Event Horizon (1997)

Bryce Zabel, Editor-in-ChiefThe Smackdown

Ever since Alien showed the dark flip side of 2001: A Space Odyssey, filmgoers have been disabused in one movie after another of any thought that going where humans haven’t gone before can be a noble journey.

These two films — Pandorum and Event Horizon — do, however, take the position that noble or not, being in some parts of space is definitely not boring.

You won’t sleep through either one.

Cold, hostile, horrific space, set in the middle of this century — that’s our Smackdown…

The Challenger

When Pandorum starts with astronauts like Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster waking up unexpectedly from a deep sleep, you know (especially if you saw Alien) that no damn good can come from it. Before long, it’s a life-or-death struggle with hissing, flesh-eating CGI creations.

The Defending Champion

A dozen years ago, Event Horizon mixed sci-fi and horror in the story of a space ship on a rescue mission to save another ship that disappeared years ago somewhere near Neptune, which in space terms is shorthand for being so far away that nobody can come help you if things get weird. Of course, the crew finds the original lost spacecraft, and the games begin. In these space Olympics, minds are bent, reality is twisted, and the ship, it turns out, has literally been to hell and back. Hell, presumably, is well-past Neptune.

The Scorecard

Both of these films pilfer liberally from what has come before, from Solaris to Alien, lifting and separating with reckless abandon. Neither one of them won over the critics upon release, although Event Horizon seems to be picking up steam in Blu-ray release. Paul Anderson directs Event Horizon and produces on Pandorum, but in the annals of sci-fi, that only means he’s 0-2.  Still, there is a propulsion of creepiness in Event Horizon where the left turn of leaving space for a literal hell actually feels freshly horrific. Pandorum feels muddled and floundering. While Event Horizon had Sam Neil and Laurence Fishburne acting up a space-storm, Pandorum locks Dennis Quaid into reading most of his dialogue over an intercom, saying things like “Bower, do you read me?”

The Decision

Life is short. Pandorum has nothing new to say until, basically, the end.  It’s never clear where you are in the ship or what’s going on or what’s at stake.  It’s a soft mess, while Event Horizon gives a go at saying that, out there in the void, there are some surprises in store.  It’s not perfect, but it takes the Smack on points.

About Bryce Zabel 196 Articles
Drawing inspiration from career experiences as a CNN correspondent, TV Academy chairman, creator of five produced primetime network TV series, and fast-food frycook, Bryce is the Editor-in-Chief of "Movie Smackdown." While he freely admits to having written the screenplay for the reviewer-savaged "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation," he hopes the fact that he also won the Writers Guild award a couple of years ago will cause you to cut him some slack. That, plus the fact that he has a new StudioCanal produced feature film, “The Last Battle,” shooting this summer in Europe about the end of World War II. He's also a member of the Directors Guild, Screen Actors Guild, and a past enthusiast of the Merry Marvel Marching Society. His new what-if book series, “Breakpoint,” just won the prestigious Sidewise Award for Alternate History, and has so far tackled JFK not being assassinated and The Beatles staying together.
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20 Comments on Pandorum (2009) -vs- Event Horizon (1997)

  1. Just trying to figure out why there is a picture of Pinhead from Hellraiser on this article…

  2. You can’t trust a writer who can’t get their movie photos right! LOL You’ve got Pandorum and HELLRAISER!! HAHAHA That is not Event Horizon. That’s Pinhead! It’s not even a sci-fi horror movie.

  3. Honestly, event horizon is not even scary, even FROM START TO THE END. i feel so disappointing after i’ve watched the EH because a lot of people saying that this film is so scary. while pandorum a lot people saying that this movie is not scary at all. so i tried if it is true. so when I’ve finish watching this film i would say ” do not trust with the critics” Parents need to know that the intense violence in this dark, scary sci-fi movie is apparent in every scene, even if it’s not specifically presented in terms of fighting or gore (though there’s plenty of those, too). There’s a constant, unrelenting feel of terror, tension, and dread, thanks mainly to the movie’s overwhelmingly dark, metallic, deliberately unsettling sets. Alien creatures threaten to jump out from every dark corner, and the soundtrack’s alarming use of screeching noises adds to the general unease. Likely it will be too much for most kids to handle. Despite that, and despite the characters’ severe trials and tribulations, the movie has a solid ethical core and a generally hopeful outlook. Characters set aside their differences and team up for the greater good, and despite his potty mouth (expect plenty of “f–k”s and more) and initial disorientation, the hero ultimately behaves bravely and selflessly.

  4. pandorum is the best space movie ever

  5. i really don’t know why from this review said event horizon is more creepier than pandorum, but when i’have watched EH last week,to be honest EH is not scary at all compare to pandorum that so fucking scary from the first 5 minutes until to the end of the movie

  6. if you really want to watch a true lovecraft movie, just watch pandorum, it is bending scifi horror action suspense genre & and i would say that this film is the scariest film ever made

  7. no need to explain, pandorum is the best space movie ever made !

  8. Pandorum is more far better and greater than EH, PANDORUM is an excellent film, no one can top this movie co’z this is the Best, Excellent and even more Outstanding space movie ever so far. For me this is the best sci-fi in the last decade, the only one which I enjoyed from beginning to the end without being bored for just one minute or even half of minute ! Very suspenseful and engaging throughout. This was and is, an excellent movie well scripted, awesome acting and surprising twists leave this movie with you catch into it. A must watch for space thriller fans! Dark, full of terror, suspense, really excellent movie, excellent acting of all cast especially for the main character Ben Foster and Antje Traue… hopefully, there’s coming second part of the movie Pandorum isn’t suppose to be an action space flick, it’s not a generic star wars clone And it is defiantly not a AvP off. It isn’t supposed to be, this movie is more of mystery suspense with a mint of tragedy. I thought this movie wasn’t going to be good at all, but I was way wrong! This movie is extremely awesome. It kind of reminded me of Dead Space. Great story (always kept you trying to figure things out) a must see. This movie has Intense, very scary, great actors and a space ship full of monsters. Great set design and the movie has its own feel. Original story line (not another reboot), A bit like aliens/event horizon/and a zombie movie so perfect for me I LOVED IT!!!!! In addition this is vastly underrated movie. One of the best space films of recent years. Great story, with plenty of twists and a great ending, cool mutant design as well I found it so amazing!, reminds me Dead Space video game. It’s a survival horror movie which has its thrilling moments, really very good story and creepy creatures. I enjoyed much more than the last 5 Resident evil and other space movies, so for me this one is the best Sci-Fi movies I have ever seen. Excellent cast, involving story, crazy action, scary moments, adventurous. a very excellent movie to watch at night in the dark. Worth buying, entertaining enough to watch more than once. Alien, Event Horizon, and now Pandorum – Gothic science-fiction horror. Pandorum is an original story with a great twist that actually make s sense, excellent acting with believable characters, all in an imaginative environment. Its dark, very scary, and very serious stuff. TRUST ME THIS MUCH MORE FAR CREEPIER THAN EVENT HORIZON! EXTREMELY EXCELLENT AMAZING MOVIE!

  9. Honestly, Pandorum is the only scfi-fi horror movie that was scared me to much, i’ve already done watching space horror like alien, aliens, event horizon and other rated horror movies but not as creepy as pandorum, this film incorporated everything you would expect and more – effects, plot, build up, characters, mystery, action, thriller, jumpscares, horror, frightening scene, this movie got everything !

  10. honestly, i’ve already watch pandorum. as a fan of Lovecraft films i did not believe some reviews that event horizon is creepier than pandorum. that’s the FUNNIEST and THE BIGGEST JOKE I’VE EVER SEEN. I’ve already watched lot of horror films like (the decent )( the conjuring part 1,2)( alien)( aliens)( Grave Encounters part 1,2)( all parts of resident evil films )( Mama )( dead silence)( insidous part 1,2,3)( the thing orig, remake)( dawn of the dead remake)( the evil dead films orig, remake)( hellraiser films)( Rec part 1,2)( the woods)( howl) and etc. i’ve already watched more than this horror films but not as creepy as pandorum did. the exorcist, the shining and other slasher films are way more funny comedy than horror. just watch pandorum, one of the scariest movie ever !

  11. Just saw Pandorum. I doubt I`ll watch it again. It was like Event Horizon recycled for kids. So Event Horizon is definitely my choice from these two. I`ve seen it dozens of times and every time it feels as if I`m watching it for the first time – there`s always something new to notice about it. It`s exciting, has a great cast and I think the special effects are still amazing today. It kicks the hell out of any other modern horror film I`ve seen and is definitely one of the best horror films of all time – and I`ve seen A LOT of them! BTW I can`t believe nobody here can spell Sam Neill`s name right!!!! Such a great actor and the driving force of the film!

  12. Pandorum is one of those films that requires a second viewing to have a more profound understanding of its jigsaw puzzle plot and how jointed it is. I feel that Pandorum was a much thoughtful movie that explored lovecrafian madness better than Event Horizon. Blogged all about it on my blogspot(click the name).

  13. Personally, I found Event Horizon to be a crudely executed mash between Solaris and Disney’s The Black Hole but with gore. Pandorum effectively drew parallels between the concept of survival of fittest and religious concepts, as well as having social commentary on over-population. Google “Allegory of Pandorum” for details.

    Event Horizon is creeper but Pandorum is more cerebral.

  14. I actually find Pandorum to be more brillent and thought provoking than Event Horizon with the symbolism it had with it (google “Movie Analysis: Symbolism In Pandorum”)

    Oh and I’m not trying to be a douche but Alien was a bigger budget reworking of It! The Terror From Space that came out in 1958…

  15. I thought Event Horizon was the better one. For some reason, it was just creepier and went out with a bigger bang. Pandorum was still good, though.
    And I know I’ll sound like a huge douche bag, but Event Horizon came out in 1997, not ’99. 🙂

  16. In regards to pandorum i liked the plot twist and ive seen it again and when you know the twist its like seeing the movie + a little bit more.

  17. In my opinion i thought that Pandorum was the better of the two. It may have had to do with the fact that i played the video game “Dead Space” which is like 60% like Pandorum. Except you dont wake up on the ship your the rescue crew trying to find out what happened. But anyway i think “Dead Space” is the best out of all 3

  18. All of which may be true, Rodney, but then, you’d have to see Pandorum to understand the decision!!

  19. I haven’t seen Pandorum, but I do know that I thought Event Horizon was a brilliant idea utterly squandered by cheap scares and lazy dialogue. The final third of the film is almost unwatchable by modern cinema standards, simply for plot “twists” that beggar belief and rely more on sci-fi cliche than inventive scripting. Sam Niell was dreadful. Laurence Fishburne should have known better, as should have almost the entire cast except Joely Richardson. She can be in any film and I’ll watch her.

  20. I always thought Event Horizon was underrated. It is a profound, unsettling, entertaining, mind-boggling film. Thanks for giving it some love.

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