BFI London Film Festival: Color Out of Space

Color Out of Space
Color Out of Space
Directed by Richard Stanley
Starring Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson and Madeleine Arthur
Screening at LFF October 7th, 8th and 10th 2019

by Alex Plant

If there was ever a more perfect actor than Nicolas Cage to star in an H.P. Lovecraft adaptation then I don’t want to hear it. For a certain kind of geek, Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space would seem like the perfect melding of actor and source material, particularly in light of the cult success of last year’s none-more-Cage Mandy. However, it is almost impossible to not draw comparisons with Alex Garland’s Annihilation, with which it shares more than few similarities, the most obvious being the kaleidoscopic otherworldly visual effects. It’s a shame really, because even though it will probably appeal directly to them, the impact of Color Out of Space is likely to be diminished for fans of these movies. Though, despite it being (slightly) less madcap than Mandy and less introspective than Annihilation, Stanley manages to deliver a decent modern day adaptation of the 1927 Lovecraft short-story that manages to feature not only a disturbing dose of body horror but also a scene where Nicolas Cage drinks a ladle of freshly-squeezed alpaca milk.

After a meteorite lands in the middle of their farm, the isolated Gardner family start to witness a strange, colourful phenomena that affects their crops and animals, as well as their own mental and physical well-being. Cage turns in a reliably Cage-y performance as the family patriarch, Nathan. Though, at times, his presence feels a little distracting from some of the more horrific moments, particularly the Trump-esque impressions of Nathan’s father that he occasionally slips into. A lot of these horrific moments are genuinely quite disturbing and, for the most part, the CG blends fairly well with some truly gloopy and gross practical effects, as well as some excellent sound design and an atmospheric score from Hereditary composer Colin Stetson.

There are plenty of easter eggs for fans of Lovecraftian horror, including references to the fictional Miskatonic University, a glimpse of non-euclidian architecture and even some narration lifted directly from the original short-story. Stanley clearly has a lot of affection for the source material and it’s unfortunate that Color Out of Space didn’t come out a couple of years earlier, when it might have made a slightly bigger splash. Nevertheless, it’s still quite a trip and certainly likely to make you take a long hard look at your next glass of tap water.


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