Updated: Sep 12, 2020
I struggled to put together a coherent review as OMFG JUST GO SEE IT! But here goes my official take on it all.
Given the combination of earlier remakes of Lovecraftian Horror, Nicholas Cage and a malevolent shade of cerise I was fully expecting a romp of a B-Movie akin to The Love Witch and other self-depreciating retro-stylised films. How wrong I was. Whilst not without its flaws, I f**king loved this film.
I am a fan of Lovecraft and others like him, owning to the fact that much is left to your imagination, making interpreting any of the stories for the screen potentially polarising. Interestingly, that is exactly what Stanley's Color Out of Space seems to have done to audience and critics alike. My best advice is to leave any preconceptions or comparisons at the door and just immerse yourself in the films technicolor glory. Please excuse the gentle spoilers.
Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage), his wife Theresa (Joely Richardson) and family have moved to a remote farm to fulfil an oddball dream of having a Llama farm. A meteorite crashes into the farm leaving all sorts of technicolor chaos in its wake. Whilst this story line has raised eyebrows, it fits well with Gardner's eccentric character, played so well by Cage. It also creates an interesting tension between him and his wife who is desperately trying to maintain her corporate career despite battling cancer.
If you enjoy Cult Classics such as 'The Thing' then be prepared to fall in love with the monstrous beauty of Color Out of Space.
The original short story was told from the perspective of Pierce who tries to piece together the events that followed a meteorite crashing into Gardner's farm. Whilst Color Out of Space presents the events as they unfold - the film stays faithful to the original story with such details as the ominous well, an abundance of inedible fruit, and the 'crazed' wife in the attic.
Pierce is replaced by Wake (Elliot Knight), a young hydrologist who is testing water in the area. The story arc regarding the building of a reservoir in the area is confusing and does not seem to contribute to the overall story arc of an otherwise brilliant film. However, I am mindful of the fact that this is a franchise, and these scenes may well have been glimpses of an overreaching story arc that will unfold with each film. The truly observant will also note a smattering of continuity errors. Despite my reservations, these issues do not detract from an otherwise great film.
The malevolent 'color' in this case are glorious shades of cerise and lilac which have a hypnotic and 'trippy' effect. This - to me - demonstrated a subtle yet brilliant subversion of the expectations we have around these colours. Pink and Purple are traditionally associated with comfort, femininity, and playfulness and healing. We admire the dragonfly and the flowers that appear following the meteorite which itself is not treated as immediately threatening.
The audience is given a subtle sense of security until the truly horrifying events start to unfold.
The touching and realistic moments between each of the family members - as well as the strong performances of the case - seem to have been overlooked in other reviews. Gardner and his wife share moments of tender romance, humour as well as arguments. Angsty teens Lavinia (Madeline Arthur) Benny (Brendan Mayer) and Jack (Julian Hilliard) -the classic boy with an active imagination - could have easily become cliche. However, the dynamic between the characters is entirely believable. For example, we Lavinia when she is in the middle of a ritual to cure her mother of cancer. Jack is just as confused and scared by developments as everyone else, despite his ability to 'hear' the whispers from the well. Contrast his vulnerability with the 'spooky child' in Poltergeist and Sixth Sense to understand that this realism in the characters inspires empathy from the audience. Even Ezra (Tommy Chong) and Wake are completely three dimensional characters with fears, flaws and a sense of humour.
Cage plays out Garnder's increasing insanity with his usual flair. There are some unexpected Jump Scares scattered through the film, which certainly kept the audience on its toes. The monsters created in the wake of disaster nod towards cult classics such as The Thing, yet are jaw-droppingly repulsive.
Poor Llamas is all I will say.
Overall, this is a film that is immensely enjoyable and will leave you shook.