Cinema Review: Color Out of Space | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, September 20th, 2020  

Color Out of Space

Studio: RLJE Films
Directed by Richard Stanley

Jan 23, 2020 Web Exclusive
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Adapted from an H.P. Lovecraft short story, Color Out of Space is a cosmic home invasion movie that winds up Nic Cage and watches him go.

We open with a double-edged sword. Hydrologist Ward Phillips (Elliot Knight) talks lovingly of the woods and the shape of the trees as the camera gazes at the forest’s beauty: an homage to nature. He then comes across a strange sight taking place at the edge of the woods. A young woman (Madeleine Arthur) is taking part in a witchy ceremony of sorts. It’s unclear as to what it is she’s doing exactly, but this juxtaposition of nature’s purity and witchcraft’s darkness is a thread that runs clear through Color Out of Space.

Cut to a house in the middle of the woods, a scene of calm domesticity and familial love. “We’re living the dream,” says patriarch Nathan (Nicolas Cage), who has spent the evening cooking, drinking wine and spending time with his family. When they all retreat to bed something mysterious happens. There’s a disruption on eldest son Benny’s (Brenden Meyer) computer, youngest Jack (Julian Hilliard) is alerted by dog Sam’s strange behavior and daughter Lavinia (our witchy lady from earlier) is woken from her slumber. Blissfully unaware of any strangeness, Nathan and his wife Theresa (Joely Richardson) are trying to have a long-overdue love-making session only to have things cut short by a meteorite landing in the yard; an explosively purple premature ejaculation.

The next morning, with police, reporters and the Mayor present, Nathan stews over the curious rock situated in front of the house. It smells “like somebody lit a dog on fire,” says Nathan, a vividly nasal-arousing description. The purple hue no longer glows from the meteorite and not too long after, the meteorite disappears completely. Though the meteorite-shaped hole in the ground has lost its peg, the land surrounding the home seems to be showing some curious signs. Purple flowers covering the lawn, fast-growing crops, and an absent-minded attempt at cutting carrots are the beginnings of something taking ahold on both the family and the environment around them.

Quickly, the effects of the meteorite go from bloom to doom as the mysterious purple energy encompassing the land creates an ecosystem of its own, forcing the family into peril. Nic Cage is in top bonkers form as the meteorite’s arrival activates a gauge on the Cage-o-meter and slowly cranks it from slam-dunking tomatoes to distraught alpaca executioner. This continues Cage’s strange career transition from peculiarly large-featured star appeal to a coked-up Milhouse’s dad, something that I truly welcome when executed so well.

Cage’s increasingly mad energy transfers into the film’s overarching aesthetic. The purple swell of color, the eerie synth soundtrack, and Carpenter-esque body-horror make for a film that knows it has a crude intensity to burn, and burn it does. Balancing its elements of witchcraft, eco-horror, and gonzo storyline into a horror film that feels lean, contemporary and a whole lot of fun is an act that shows it can indulge in the juicer aspects of the genre, while still providing a good deal to chew on.


Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 10/10


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