Updated: Mar 18
From the moment the opening credits roll you can tell it's going to be good. Immediately the sound design is off its head, and as soon as those words appear on the screen a shiver goes down the proverbial spine. This is it. The Color Out of Space!
I went into this movie with reasonably high expectations. Not only is it director Richard Stanleys big return, and not only is it ole' Nic Cages glorious comeback but it's the first movie in who-can-say-how-long that adapts an H.P. Lovecraft story directly!
As a Cultist I can't tell you how excited I was to finally sit down and watch this. But... ...as an experienced movie buff, I was also braced for impact. Rarely do these adaptions work well, and rarely, too, does Hollywood seem to get it right these days. So how did it do? Let's do a spoiler-free rundown. Here's the synopsis:
"After a meteorite lands in the front yard of their farm, Nathan Gardner and his family find themselves battling a mutant extraterrestrial organism that infects their minds and bodies, transforming their quiet rural life into a technicolor nightmare."
Heavy. We open with eerily beautiful photography and narration that is thick with Lovecraftian overtones. Within the first few minutes the narrator drops, "Arkham" on us and another Culty shiver runs down my spine.
This is going to be good. (Please don't be shit, please don't be shit).
As many, if not all, of you are already aware, the story follows a family of five as they move into an old rural farmhouse. It's the typical "Big City to Small Town" motif. Nothing new there. We've got Papa Cage, a protective but good-humoured-in a-goofball-sort-of-way father. Mama Teresa, a highly strung financial advisor who, let's face it, is a bit of a bitch.
The stoner big brother, the inquisitive little brother, and our protagonist; teenage practicing wiccan, Lavinia They are, essentially, a happy family.
Until the meteor hits.
This entire sequence is done very well. The color blinds everything from outside and there is genuine fear and horror: shit's going down, and it's going down quickly! With a thunderous crash it lands in the garden outside the house. From here on out it's Lovecraft and Stanley pulling out all the stops. Let me tell you, ladies and gentleman, the boys are back in town. From excellent dialogue and acting to beautiful (and terrifying) set design, there's actually very little to critique harshly about this adaption. It has excellent pace throughout and zero cringe (which I was definitely braced for) and it does an excellent job of keeping your attention as well as on your toes. There is a definite Stephen King-esque vibe to certain scenes, particularly towards the end. And that's something that this movie absolutely nailed: the horror in cosmic horror! It may be that I'm so close to it these days, or that most attempts at it are either old to the point of comedy or poor to the point of absurdity, but cosmic horror hasn't felt very... horror... to me for a long time now. I hadn't really realised that cosmic fear... actually wasn't very scary to me anymore...
Until I watched this movie.
They perfectly nailed the two fundamentals that they set out to. There are moments of genuine shock and terror, but it never once loses its cosmic undertone. This is fear from the stars and it is exactly what H.P. Lovecraft envisioned.
He is no doubt dancing in his grave.
After a moment of slight drag just after the midway point the movie stops pulling its punches and hits you with everything it's got! And boy lemme tell ya, the universe can pack a punch! There are heart stopping, insanity inducing scenes and shots that are no doubt already considered classics for this new wave of sci-fi-cosmic-horror.
Color Out of Space just set the new benchmark.
There are moments that are truly macabre, and others that teeter on the edge of hardcore psychological thriller, yet it never loses it's vision or muddies its own identity. It balances on the tightrope of sanity and madness in a way that I really did not expect. But thats not to say that it's all doom and gloom... There is such a well executed balance of tension and humour in just the right spots. After sequences of extreme stress and dread, it's nice to see Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) have a mini-rant about alpacas. It adds some levity to the story and gives us a chance to breath, whilst keeping his character consistent and therefore believable. And Nic Cage is hilarious in his role as Nathan Gardner - to the point of being downright weird - and it's utterly awesome. His performance is reminiscent of his old days, when this was more his style.
Its nice to see him drop the 'ole Cage scowl that he's become so typecast for. His acting, like this movie, was a breath of fresh air. Fricken Nicolas Cage... The moments of genuine humour that exist within the dialogue never feel forced, ("Well I think dinner smells great!" "That's because you're high.") and speaking of high, here's something nobody seems to be talking about: Chong is in the movie!
(And he's entertaining as ever, by the way. Up to all his usual hijinks. His cats name is "G-Spot" for heavens sake!)
From constant references to the Lovecraft Universe (someone on the radio drops, "Miskatonic" and you can't help but smile) to little nods of respect to Lovecraft ("I'm not from Boston, I'm from Providence") to the fact that "the color" seems to actually be from outer space...
...and the subtle way in which they set us up with just enough information for a sequel set in the same Lovecraftian Cinematic Universe...
Color Out Of Space is an absolute win!
It has every single ingredient needed to kickstart a franchise of awe-inspiring horror, and guess what? That's exactly where we're headed. SpectreVision, the genre production company that produced Color Out of Space, was created by Elijah Wood and the directors Daniel Noah and Josh C. Waller. Yep, you read that right, the hobbit that destroyed the One Ring also brought the Color Out of Space down upon us, and he's going to do it again! Twice! While the third and final entry in this potential franchise has yet to be revealed, Wood and Noah have revealed that they’re in the early stages of developing The Dunwich Horror, an absolute classic which will reintroduce the Necronomicon to the world.
So here's our job, Cultists... • Go watch the movie! Do a quick Google search and find out when and where it's playing in your city, then take a whole group of friends and see it. Then see it again! • If it's not playing in your town then wait for an opportunity to pay for it online. •If you absolutely must stream or pirate it, then go out of your way to email SpectreVision or post on their socials. Remember, this isn't a big hollywood cash-grab; it's an independent that is taking a huge risk. So be vocal about your support! The industry needs to know that we are very ready for a Lovecraftian Cinematic Universe, and that we'll support it every step of the way!
If Color Out of Space is any indication of what's to come, then I'm looking very forward to the 2020's indeed.
__________________________________________ If you've already seen The Color Out of Space (or don't mind spoilers) then check out Is Color Out of Space About Ascension?
which covers the entire movie and all of The Cult of Cthulhu related easter eggs that I noticed. That is not dead which can eternal lie --------
Nyarlathoth, Order of No Name, Speaker for The Cult of Cthulhu