It’s been 23 years since Richard Stanley has made a movie, but this month he returns with Color Out of Space. First, he had to convince Nicolas Cage to say yes (he did). Then he prayed to ancient alien god Yog-Sothoth for financing (his prayers were answered), and the result is one of the best adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft to ever grace the screen.

Of course, in many ways Lovecraft has never really been absent from cinema; it’s difficult to find a bigger influence on contemporary horror. His work has inspired Stephen King (who is in a golden period of onscreen adaptation), Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman, among others. However, straight adaptations of Lovecraft have remained elusive, with the source material a little too weird to successfully translate to screen. Which may all change following Stanley’s brilliant and oddly prescient returning feature.

Lovecraft’s stories appeared in pulp magazines in the 1920s and ’30s; while Universal was putting out classic monster pictures Lovecraft was writing stories of existential dread with creatures that defied any logical sense of nature. This is why Nicolas Cage is not out to do battle with murderers or demons but, instead, a colour.

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Courtesy of Netflix UK

Nathan Gardner (Cage) lives with his family on an alpaca farm deep in the woods until a meteor crashes onto their property and slowly starts to turn everything a shade of purple. So far, so strange. However, over the last few years, a number of films have been released that arguably follow the tropes of Lovecraft’s signature genre, the Weird (typically some combination of horror, sci-fi/fantasy and social realism). The ‘Color’, for example, is akin to the ‘shimmer’ in Alex Garland’s Annihilation and the farm setting creates a similarly odd atmosphere to the secluded communities of a Yorgos Lanthimos film. Of course, things do get a lot more extreme in Color, but – typically of Lovecraft – no explanation is offered. The true horror comes later, when you try and fail to piece together what it is you’ve just seen. But twist my arm and I’d tell you that the colour shines a light on the darkest natures of the Gardner family – which either they didn’t know or were too scared to admit were even there.

Lovecraft’s writing was often in response to a world that at once felt like it was changing rapidly and constantly on the brink of total destruction. To make matters worse the threat would be unknown or inexplicable. His characters would often try to carry on as normally as possible while their lives made less and less sense. Sound familiar?

Many films now tackle the unrepresented or unspoken horror of our so-called “better” natures, and sometimes with huge success; Get Out won an Oscar and Midsommar already has cult status. The appetite for the strange is undeniable. The last few years alone have seen the return of Twin Peaks, a cosmic-spider-clown-demon movie break box office records and now the return of Richard Stanley. It’s true of the mainstream as well. Lovecraft’s stories often revealed horrible hidden truths (like Todd Haynes’ Dark Waters) or dealt with unprecedented challenges (the dramatic drive of HBO’s Chernobyl).

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Courtesy of RLJE Films

Looking ahead, this year sees a remake of Clive Barker’s Candyman and the launch of Jordan Peele’s Lovecraft Country, while Marvel prep for the avowedly Lovecraftian Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It’s not to say that Lovecraft is looming large over every film in production, but a lot of what is being made now shares very similar themes with what he wrote 100 years ago. Given Color Out of Space‘s success perhaps these weird times deserve weird cinema.