TITLE: Color Out Of Space
DIRECTOR: Richard Stanley
SCREENWRITER: Richard Stanley
STARS: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson
RUNTIME: 111 minutes
CINEMATIC RELEASE DATES: Australia (6th February 2020), Thailand (TBA), UK (28th February 2020), USA (24th January 2020)
HOME ENTERTAINMENT RELEASE DATES: TBA
CLASSIFICATIONS: Australia (MA15+), Thailand (TBC), UK (15), USA (unrated)
Remember those old horror films that you and your friends used to sit around and watch on VHS? There is no doubt that you have seen many horror films over the past few years and walked out of the cinema wishing there was a way to flashback to that time. A time when filmmakers made horror movies because they believed in the genre and loved it, not just because a studio had asked them to make something for a quick buck.
The good news is Color Out Of Space is one of those films. Even when you are watching the film in a big cinema you find yourself transported back to your lounge room sitting in front of your TV with the VHS plugged in. Added to that is the fact that this is a film made by a filmmaker who has been in love with the work for years, and that is obvious throughout the film. Yes there is a retro feel to Color Out Of Space but this is also a film that very much holds up for audiences of today as well.
Based on a short story by HP Lovecraft Color Out Of Space finds a family trying to re-start their lives in a beautiful home in an ancient wood. The ambitious father, Nathan (Nicolas Cage – The Rock), is trying to set up an alpaca farm while trying to mend his relationship with his wife, Theresa (Joely Richardson – Event Horizon), who is recovering from cancer.
Nathan also finds his relationship with his children is strained. His teenage daughter Lavinia (Madeline Arthur – Big Eyes) is going through a rebellious stage that involves experimenting with Wicca while his teenage son, Benny (Brendan Meyer – The Guest) is more interested in getting stoned with their hippy neighbour, Ezra (Tommy Chong – Zootopia) then he is to help out on the farm.
All of those problems pale into significance though when the family’s farm is hit by a meteor. Although strange occurrences start happening straight away they are told by the authorities that everything will be okay, with only young hydrologist Ward (Elliot Knight – Titans) warning them that he believes it has contaminated the water table.
As a filmmaker you very quickly learn that Richard Stanley (Hardware) doesn’t much around when he is telling a story like this. He doesn’t around with jump scares and the like, instead he delves straight into the story at hand focussing on characterisation to help move the story along before delving straight into the horror at hand. Perhaps some people out there may not like the ‘retro’ feel to the horror but it really does feel like Stanley has told this story the way that Lovecraft would have expected to see it on the screen.
While Stanley’s script doesn’t exactly explain what has caused the ‘being’ from the meteorite to behave the way it does the events that follow are so horrific that the audience really won’t mind. In fact not knowing all the ins and outs of what is happening actually works to the film’s audience because it places the audience in the same boat as the characters on the screen – they can’t work out what the hell is happening and neither can we. Stanley’s approach to the horror is creative and to his credit he doesn’t try and hide the brutal results from his audience.
There also seems to be a real bond and chemistry a between the cast as well. Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson are sensational together on screen, and credit must be paid to them for not shying away from starring in an alternative genre flick like this. Aside from Jack Nicholson nobody quite does ‘crazy’ on screen like Cage and here he is in his element.
Stanley also brings out the best in the younger cast and it is easy to see that both Brendan Meyer and Madelaine Arthur have big futures ahead of them in Hollywood. With her performance in Color Out Of Space Arthur really announces herself as an actress that can deliver it all. From scenes of romantic tension with Elliott Knight to extreme scenes involving self-harm she is on top of her game. Credit must also be paid to Stanley for not using Tommy Chong as a ‘joke’ in the film. His character of Ezra is one of the most interesting characters in the film and plays an important role in the story at hand… he is certainly not just there for a cameo.
While Color Out Of Space may not be the kind of film enjoyed by the casual movie goer it is destined to become a cult classic amongst the more hardcore horror and sci-fi fans. It’s retro vibe once again reminds many of us why we love cinema so much.