Richard Stanley (director)
06 April 2020 (released)
15 April 2020
This audacious H. P. Lovecraft adaptation by equally audacious director Richard Stanley will not only delight admirers of the American writer but should satisfy Sci-fi and horror fans in general.
Nearly thirty years since the release of his last feature film, Richard Stanley (HARDWARE, DUST DEVIL) has proven once again that nothing and no one can stop him (no, not referring to ‘Psycho Kilmer’ here). If movie adaptations for Lovecraft’s work have ever cried out for being handled by competent hands than COLOR OUT OF SPACE is certainly in competent hands with Stanley! Another stroke of genius was the casting of actor Nicolas Cage, no stranger himself when it comes to ‘eccentric’.
The film (an updated version of Lovecraft’s short story) begins in calm surroundings on a remote farm where the Gardner family live. Theresa Gardner (Joely Richardson) is still recovering from a mastectomy she had to undergo six months earlier – hence the move to rural surroundings. Her husband Nathan (Nic Cage) attempts to grow tomatoes and raise especially imported alpacas (yes, really!) for their milk. Meanwhile, the couples’ kids aren’t exactly what you may call easy care: Jack (Julian Hilliard), the youngest, is an introvert who seems to communicate better with his green toy-dinosaur and family dog Sam than with his family. Teenager Benny (Brendan Meyer) is a bit of a pothead and loves hanging out with local weirdo Ezra (Tommy Chong) – an elderly dude who looks like a leftover from Woodstock and seems ‘in tune’ with cosmic things. Yeah man! Meanwhile, the Gardners’ eldest daughter Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur) is practicing the ancient religion of Wicca – not least because she hopes that her rituals will contribute to her mother’s full recovery. It is during one such ritual that Lavinia is accidentally interrupted by young hydrologist Ward Phillips (Elliot Knight), who immediately takes a shine to her. As the days go by, the Gardner kids grow ever more bored while Theresa grows ever more frustrated: as a financial adviser she is losing money (and thus income) because the internet signal in this remote location keeps on breaking up. Adding to the already simmering brew is Nathan’s sexual frustration and it is only after he reassures his wife for the umpteenth time that he still finds her desirable despite her mastectomy that the couple engage in sexual activity. That’s when things go bump in the night…
Shaken up by an almighty bang, the Gardners’ look out the window and find a glowing meteor has crash-landed in their front yard. Not only does it exude a ghastly smell but everything becomes lit up in a peculiar purple colour. The next morning, however, the meteor has crumbled almost to dust. Ward, the local town sheriff (the town being Arkham, of course) and the town’s Mayor Tooma (Q’orianka Kilcher) arrive to see for themselves what’s happened. Later on, Lavinia and her father Nathan witness the remnants of the meteor struck by bolts of lighting while Ward warns the family not to drink the groundwater after he has tested it. Unfortunately, Mayor Tooma doesn’t go along with Ward’s warning, as she doesn’t wish to frighten the dam developers away – yes, money and corruption rule even in Arkham! While little Jack becomes almost transfixed with a well that stands close to where the meteor has landed, brightly coloured flowers begin to grow around it and strangely mutated insects fly out of the well. Soon, a lot more is going to me mutated than just harmless insects and everyone is enveloped in a purple haze. The second half of the film turns into a trippy, surreal nightmare which soon spirals out of control and leaves plenty of playroom especially for Nicolas Cage, whose character Nathan gradually succumbs to complete insanity. There are a few unexpected frights among the occasionally pitch-black humour, though that humour is completely gone as the film heads towards its terrifying and devastating climax…
Whether COLOR OUT OF SPACE will gain the same cult status as director Stanley’s previous movies HARDWARE and DUST DEVIL remains to be seen but it’s certainly a film worthy of Lovecraft.
COLOR OUT OF SPACE is available as Blu-ray, DVD & Digital, with exclusive UK artwork by Dude Designs.