“West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever cut...“
Directed by: Richard Stanley
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur
In a Nutshell:
It is crazy to think that the last time Richard Stanley was making a motion picture, Nicolas Cage was a recent Oscar-winning actor rather than the crazy bee guy from the remake that shall not be named. Thankfully the cult movie Gods were working in full force and the two kindred spirits found each other for this trippy, scary and surprisingly moving adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s popular short story. Stanley brings his oddball sensibility to the material, creating a uniquely off-kilter atmosphere in a harrowing cosmic horror that will convince you that purple is a colour you’ve never seen before…
The Gardner family have escaped the rat race by setting up home in an isolated farmhouse somewhere in rural New England. Father Nathan (Cage) has a side hustle going on with his prized alpacas while mother Theresa (Richardson) still works from home making money for her high-profile clientele. Things take a turn for the weird when a meteorite lands in their front garden, melting into the earth and tainting the water. A strange otherworldly colour distorts time and wreaks havoc with their mental state while the local flora and fauna begin to mutate. After a devastating blast from the peculiar shade melds two family members together, it seems that the Gardners are doomed to stick together forever as they are absorbed by the color out of space…
Thanks to his wacky reputation, most of the focus leading up to the release of Color out of Space was inevitably on Nicolas Cage and how bonkers he would go. It is a performance that will divide audiences but he builds on his strong work in Spectrevision’s previous neon head trip, Mandy. Nathan Gardner starts out as a slightly kooky middle-aged nerd trying to connect with his kids and becomes increasingly unhinged as the effects of the meteorite take a terrible toll on his mind and his family. Sure, there are some typically crazy Nic Cage moments, but they are in keeping with the tragic arc of his character.
Madeleine Arthur grounds the film as Gardner’s oldest child Lavina, a young woman into Wicca who is struggling to adjust to her new isolated surroundings.
Cult icon Tommy Chong is surprisingly good as Ezra, an ageing hippie living off-grid in a shack in the woods near the Gardner’s home. His stoned musings provide the backdrop for one of the film’s most creepy scenes.
Colin Stetson’s eerie score is absolutely integral to the otherworldly vibe of Color Out of Space, abound with soaring electronic chords, jittery strings, peculiar aberrations, alien vibrations and menacing tonal flourishes, building to an intense crescendo that matches the eye-popping imagery onscreen.
Some of the CG stuff is a bit iffy, but thankfully Stanley refrains from using it too much, instead favouring a slow build-up of strange imagery. Later we’re treated to some very disturbing puppetry that can’t help but evoke memories of The Thing, on the way to a mind-blowing light show at the film’s visually and aurally intense climax.
H.P. Lovecraft + Richard Stanley + Nicolas Cage + Tommy Chong = a film made in cult movie heaven.
Color Out of Space was a deeply personal project for Richard Stanley, and it is a testament to his visionary talent that he has created a film so distinctively his own after his traumatic experience on The Island of Dr Moreau over twenty years ago. It is a slow-burning, hypnotic mindfuck that will become an instant cult classic. Its freaky ambience, psychedelic imagery and unusual cadence are likely to turn off mainstream audiences. Roll yourself a fatty, crank up the sound and park yourself in front of the biggest screen you can find for this one.
Rating: 73065 out of 80080
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