Color Out of Space
Color Out of Space (2019) movie review
Premiering at Toronto Film Festival almost one year ago, with a limited release this past January, Color Out of Space follows a family living in a secluded woodland area outside the town of Arkham. The family slowly descends into chaos after a strange and colorful meteor hits nearby and begins to cause strange changes around it… Written and directed by Richard Stanley, Color Out of Space is based on the short story of the same name by H.P. Lovecraft, which follows a man being told the story of the family the film features.
Look we just aren’t paying $30 to watch Disney’s greed continue to tarnish its own reputation, so instead we thought we would bring you a lesser known film from 2020 that, if you are in to bizarre sci-fi horror films, is totally worth checking out! Now I would love to do a comparison between the story and the film, but honestly they are so close that it almost isn’t worth it. I will say however that the story being from 1927 does not have the detriment of following 60 years of characters making terrible choices in horror films… That said if you can get past a few rough spots in this aptly strange adaptation, I think it was a thoroughly captivating watch!
Now the story was one I found full of interesting choices, some which could have been updated a little better, and some that were curiously updated without provocation. The story is set without the aid of technology, so I am sure that simply having cell phones not work saved plenty on not using a 1920s aesthetic. That said something this film surprised me with was how well they kept the modern technology out of it without simply using dead phone and car batteries. However I do wish they had changed the character behavior a bit. I get that in classic horror (way pre-Psycho, 1960 horror), characters don’t have the advantage of, well, being smart about their situation I suppose. The knowledge just isn’t there. So if a well is glowing, maybe leave it alone in 2019? We know better. I don’t know how much I can really hold against the film here, as the character setup does seem to support choices that we the audience would deem unwise, but there are a few horror clichés regardless.
The largest drawback in this film came from an unexpected place: Nicolas Cage. Now there are a few reasons to have Nicolas Cage in a sci-fi horror film such as this. First, he’ll do it. Second, he’s crazy. That’s- that’s it. However the character Nathan (Nahum in the story) does spend much of the film losing his grasp, so Nicolas Cage does seem like a strong candidate. Honestly though, he just doesn’t always sell the emotion in the character. Early on he delivers a few great moments that help the audience connect with the family, and near the end of the film he returns to carrying a few rather investing scenes. Yet somewhere in the middle he goes a little too Wicker Man (2006), and it is distracting. The rest of the cast does a good job though!
So far we have established that the film has horror tropes and an occasionally over-the-top Nicolas Cage. What’s the catch? Well, it’s seeing H.P. Lovecraft’s story brought to life, and all the beautiful and terrifying imagination that the film uses to fill in where the story does not. True you can leave things to the imagination of the audience, and sometimes that can be scary. But just a reaction doesn’t do it; sometimes you have to see what is going on just to quickly look away. And in true classic horror fashion, Color Out of Space employs some imaginative body horror in a wonderful homage to films like Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). Of course the element of the story that is the scariest is the unwillingness to simply tell the audience what is in the attic, and at times, the film does an equally good job not saying or showing what there is to react to, leaving the audience to have to fill in the blank.
Color Out of Space might just be lucky! It is based on a very interesting story about a family trying to come together while an external force attempts to rip them apart; mix that with some 80s horror and you have a very macabre feature that you just can’t look away from even when you want to. The score is fittingly eerie, the performances- while Cage’s eccentric performance is often too un-relatable- still work for the story well enough, and the imagination of the film, either beautiful or grotesque, is a sight! Honestly for the budget, I was very impressed with what this film was able to do! And despite some deviations from the story, it feels like a very concise and driven adaptation that, unless you aren’t interested in a good B-horror film, is absolutely worth checking out! 7/10.
Now I am not saying I’m a sucker for horror films of the B-movie variety based on authors I quite like set around the town of Arkham or anything, but I could see Color Out of Space landing in my Top 10 of the year if we don’t get that many more great movies… But hey, Color Out of Space! Did you see it? What did you think? And what is your all-time favorite independent sci-fi horror film? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know!
-review by Ryan Prince