Based on H.P. Lovecraft’s 1927 lesser known but much adored short story, ‘The Colour Out of Space’, comes Richard Stanley (The Island of Dr. Moreau, Dust Devil) with his acid-soaked modern version of a rural family that has the misfortune of a meteor landing in their front yard.
This is a bold film in every regard. Most people will be quick to note the beautifully psychedelic visuals present throughout the film, but Nic Cage and his fellow actors deliver bold performances as well. Cage portrays Nathan Gardner, a seemingly normal but goofy father who really wants to make a go at raising Alpacas. Joining Nathan is his wife, Theresa (Joely Richardson), who has been battling cancer. We have the classic stoner teenage son, Benny (Brendan Meyer), younger brother, Jack (Julian Hilliard, a breakout actor from ‘The Haunting of Hill House’, and lastly we have Lavinia (Madeline Arthur), a teenage occultist we’re introduced to in the film’s opening moments.
The real terror here is waiting to see how this otherworldly meteor is going to impact the family, and us, as viewers, are forced to squirm for the first act of the film while we wait for the eventual to ramp up. Cell phones flake out, televisions are filled with weird static, magenta colored flowers spring up everywhere on the Garner property; all cleverly presented by Stanley to set the tension slowly building.
The brilliant magenta the meteor emanates is beautiful to behold, but packs a deadly, unthinkable secret we’re forced to see the family endure. There are no punches pulled while we’re forced to see good people put into horrific situations. The goofy but venerable Cage is a delight to watch as his character reacts and unravels to the alien horror expanding around him. The film uses some great practical effects along the way to the insane climax, some that really stuck with me; skittering, floundering things that no human should ever encounter. While the film isn’t super gory, there is quite amount of blood spilled.
Not to be skipped over is Colin Stetson who provides the hallucinogenic flourished score. His wise choice of tones and dreamy textures elevates the film dramatically in my opinion. Longtime horror fans will appreciate the Easter eggs that pepper the film. Mad Arab, anyone?
‘Color Out of Space’ is a great horror/sci-fi mashup with a killer slow burn that will reward the patient horror fan. While fans of non-traditional horror might not feel comfortable with the film’s ethereal art-house feel, true fans will eat it up. The film releases in theaters January 24th.