Cult director Richard Stanley (who once famously got fired as the director of ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau‘) directs H.P. Lovecraft‘s cosmic nightmare Color Out of Space. The story follows Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage continuing his Cage-aissance) and his family, whose recent retreat to rural life gets interrupted when a meteorite crashes into their front yard. The mysterious rock seems to sink into the Earth, and hereby seriously affecting everyone and everything around it – including time and space.

If you’re a fan of some bonkers sci-fi horror that mostly doesn’t make sense, you’ll dig all of the craziness that’s waiting for you. While nature and animals mutate into bizarre deformed creatures and spout purple rays of radioactive light, this family has to fight separately and save themselves from killing each other under the influence of this “color out of space”.

There’s some awkward exposition regarding the family in the first half hour of the film that just doesn’t work as an emotional back drop. The film would’ve worked better if the story focused more on the daughter of the house, Livinia (Madeleine ArthurTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), who has an interesting back story that involves an obsession with witchcraft and the Necronomicon. Instead we focus a bit too much on the bigger star of the film, Cage, who doesn’t really bring anything else than his “crazy shtick”, which felt much more deserved and honest in ‘Mandy‘, but doesn’t really fit here, and becomes a bit tiring at a certain point. It goes completely off the rails when Mr. Gardner’s newly adopted herd of Alpacas seem more important than his own children, while putting up a weird Trump-impersonation. If this was intentional, job well done, if not, it was too much.

Joely Richardson as the wife/mother is clearly miscast and can’t keep up with Cage’s level of insanity, as soon as their house gets surrounded by this mysterious cosmic cloud. There is a moment of body horror in which she gets to shine, and can count as one of the more shocking scenes in the film.

The film’s tone feels too uneven to be considered enjoyable, even to the extent of becoming frustrating with a running time of almost two hours. Colin Stinton‘s synth-score shamefully gets buried by the extreme amount of sound effects. While there’s no doubt a lot of the budget was spent on the impressive set design, it’s no excuse for the cheap looking VFX which really take you out of some of the more scarier scenes. This would’ve been so much more effective by the use of practical effects.

Sci-fi horror has seen a resurgence in recent memory with hits such as Annihilation and Prometheus, but this trashy B-film doesn’t work as a whole. Genre fans will surely enjoy and support Color Out of Space, which others might label as too abstract to have any real substance. A nice effort that won’t go unnoticed.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Color Out of Space‘ is available May 6 on demand via Telstra, Google Play, iTunes, Fetch TV, Foxtel & Umbrella Entertainment PLUS DVD & Blu-Ray

Review – ‘Color Out of Space’

Reviewed online (screener provided by Umbrella Entertainment), May 3, 2020. Rating: MA15+. Running time: 111 min.

PRODUCTION: An Umbrella Entertainment release in association with BRO Cinema of a SpectreVision, ACE Pictures Entertainment, XYZ Films production. Producers: Daniel Noah, Josh C. Waller, Lisa Whalen, Elijah Wood. Executive producers: Timur Bekbosunov, Johnny Chang, Stacy Jorgensen, Emma Lee, Elisa Lleras, Michael M. McGuire, Peter Wong.

CREW: Director: Richard Stanley. Screenplay: Scarlett Amaris, Richard Stanley (based on the short story by H.P. Lovecraft). Camera: Steve Annis. Editor: Brett W. Bachman. Music: Colin Stetson.

WITH: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Elliot Knight, Tommy Chong, Brendan Meyer, Julian Hilliard, Q’orianka Kilcher, Josh C. Waller, Melissa Nearman.

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