With his focus on the terror of the indescribable, H.P. Lovecraft has always proved hard to adapt. Whether it’s the Garth Marenghi-esque ‘70s version of The Dunwich Horror or Guillermo Del Toro being unable to find funding for At the Mountains of Madness, Lovecraftian horror can feel like a cursed genre. Step in cursed filmmaker Richard Stanley, whose nightmarish shoot for H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr Moreau has gone down in legend.
Stanley is the perfect fit for Lovecraft, and his manic, horrifying, and endearingly goofy take on Color Out of Space is proof positive of that. After a glowing, magenta meteorite lands in the yard of rural Massachusetts alpaca farmer Nathan Gardener (Nicolas Cage), all hell breaks loose, the alien force wreaking gory havoc on Nathan’s family.
Color Out of Space functions as a sort of B-movie mashup of Mandy and Annihilation, Cage here going to war with an otherworldly horror that warps the DNA of everything it makes contact with. The effects here are truly grisly, the grotesquery becoming something of an endurance test that sets a brilliantly unsettling tone, occasionally broken by the darkest of dark humour. Cage is having a ball as Nathan’s sanity breaks down, and even if his demented performance isn’t as perfectly integrated into the wider film here as it was in Mandy, it’s still very entertaining.
Befitting the title, Stanley makes a magical use of colour, deep pinks and blues and greens visually stunning and eventually terrifying, before all this saturation and brightness gives way to a climactic explosion of grey.
After the richness of the colour that’s been assaulting you for the past hour, it’s the most beautiful grey you’ve ever seen, a stroke of sensory genius that should make you immensely happy that Richard Stanley has returned to the big screen.
CAST: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Tommy Chong, Elliot Knight, Brendan Meyer, Julian Hilliard
DIRECTOR: Richard Stanley
WRITERS: Richard Stanley, Scarlett Amaris (screenplay), H.P. Lovecraft (short story)
SYNOPSIS: A secluded farm is struck by a strange meteorite which has apocalyptic consequences for the family living there and possibly the world.