Taking the supernatural sensibilities of H.P. Lovecraft’s beloved 1927 sci-fi tale and transporting into contemporary America, writer-director Richard Stanley overloads Color Out of Space with enough B-Film de rigueur to appease horror nuts everywhere.
For everyone else, Color Out of Space becomes yet another begrudging ride on the Nicolas Cage-Express to Camp-city.
The crash landing of a meteorite, radiating a lurid glow so purple that it makes Willy Wonka’s suit look subtle in comparison, onto the doorstep of farm-dwelling Gardner family – consisting of mother Theresa (Joely Richardson), father Nathan (Cage), wannabe sorceress daughter Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur) and sons Benny (Brendan Meyer) and Jack (Julian Hilliard) – sets off a string of out-of-this-world hijinks.
From contaminated waterways to the beastly-mutation of livestock (alpacas will never look the same again), the horrors suffered by the unassuming Gardner’s, already processing the grief brought on by Theresa’s struggle with breast cancer, escalate to levels of balls-to-wall insanity that in their efforts to be deliciously over-the-top, feel excessive.
Where Panos Cosmatos crafted an endearing acid-trip-nightmare with 2018’s Mandy, sublimely developing Cage’s maddening for the benefit of the story, Stanley revels in force-feeding absurdity when it ought to be fostered organically.
With Cage relishing in any opportunity to portray characters with peculiar personalities, an appetite which has attracted for the Oscar winner as much maligning as it has a cult-following, so too has he forced his career into a state of cruise control.
Poured, skimmed and served in abundance like a fine pilsner, Cage’s zaniness in Color Out of Space achieves little-to-no deviation from previous efforts (excusing some spectacular vest-wearing). Cage is Malibu Stacy with a new hat, with the celebrated actor’s penchant for questionable roles begging to question; can you manufacture enjoyable eccentricity?
Stanley’s efforts to create a living nightmare become further derailed by a directorial heaviness, the likes of which inundating the film with bizarre dialogue (we may have a new ‘not the bees’ moment involving alpacas…), haphazardly constructed messages on environmentalism, a slew of unnecessary characters, harshly composed edits, and psionic visuals that verge on early 2000s PlayStation quality.
The grand effect of Stanley’s deliberativeness forcing Color Out of Space into hokum without investing the time to set-up the groundwork.
Leave this one to the Cage-fanatics.
Director: Richard Stanley
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur
Writers: Scarlett Amaris, Richard Stanley, (based on the short story by H.P. Lovecraft)