Color out of Space
12 June 2020
Based on the H. P. Lovecraft short story of the same name, this marks the return of Richard Stanley to feature filmmaking 24 years after he was replaced in the ill-fated The Island of Dr. Moreau. Much like that film, this is just the right amount of unorthodox to stand out from the rest, but it is also much more accomplished and memorable. By the end of it, I wasn’t sure what kind of film I watched, but I knew it was unlike anything I’ve seen in a while.
Stylistically (at least on the surface), it resemblance another recent Nicolas Cage film — the brilliant Mandy, produced by the same folks — but tonally it is more conventional that that. Nathan (Cage) and Theresa (Joely Richardson) move out to the farm house that belonged to Nathan’s father with their three children. The house is situated deep in the woods rich with its own mythical, dark past. Despite the change in surroundings, the family appear to be doing well. However, one night a magenta-glowing small meteorite falls in their front yard. And, predictably, things turn upside down subsequently, as the radiation from the meteorite begin to alter each family member (and the alpacas they own) in proper Lovecraftian tradition.
This being a modern Nicolas Cage vehicle, there are plenty of scenes where he goes in full-on Nicolas Cage mode, though it feels toned down slightly. Maybe that’s a good thing, but I thought the comedic scenes were a little too … unfunny. And when they are not funny, you should always question why they were there in the first place. If Stanley and co-writer Scarlett Amaris went a little bit more in one way, it would have been a surefire cult classic.
It is not scary in the traditional sence and the pervading dread is there, but not stark enough to be disturbing, though it achieves something most horror films don’t — it will leave you speechless by the end of it. Whether that’s a good kind of speechless or not is open for debate for me, but I certainly wanted to rewatch it knowing how it all happened. It is a manic journey, a little too all-over-the-place, and not sure how strongly it should wedge that tongue against its cheek, but it’s a singular film in more ways than one. I enjoyed it, but not sure I can say the L-word just yet.