Director: Richard Stanley
Writers: Scarlett Amaris and Richard Stanley
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur
Genre: Horror/ Sci-Fi
After a meteorite lands in the front yard of their remote farm, Nathan Gardner (Cage) and his family find themselves battling a mutant extra-terrestrial organism that infects their minds and bodies. This not only transforms their lives into a technicolour nightmare, but also may have apocalyptic consequences for the entire world.
I think we can all accept that everyone’s favourite screen mentalist Nicolas Cage has been on auto pilot for most of the numerous straight to DVD films that he has starred in recently (Mandy being the only exception), but I am pleased to say that he does not disappoint in Color Out of Space (that misspelling is very irritating). As much as there is a cult following of H.P. Lovecraft, I know for a fact that many people will watch this film solely to see Cage’s trademark overacting, and I am pleased to say that they (and I include myself in this group) will not be disappointed. Cage has many great moments that only he could pull off in his own unique way where he overacts and delivers lines of dialogue that would seem casual, mundane and inconsequential with any other actor, yet Cage makes them moments of comedy gold just by the fact he is Nicolas Cage. Well, people wanting those moments will not be disappointed, so for those hungry for some Cage Rage in the vein of The Wicker Man and Vampire’s Kiss, ignore all of his recent output (apart from Mandy) and just watch Color Out of Space.
Well, now that I have established that Nicolas Cage goes mental (i.e. the reason most people will watch this film), I can review the actual film.
Well, the casting of Nicolas Cage was obviously very purposeful, as there is admittedly not too much to say about the rest of the film other than it is a very effective, atmospheric and enjoyable old school style horror film that recreates effectively the unnerving and disturbing atmosphere of the video nasties. Director Richard Stanley is apparently a huge Lovecraft fan and intends to bring other stories of his to the big screen, and his passion for the source material is obvious throughout as Color Out of Space is a very well put together and atmospheric film that is surprisingly memorable considering what happens within its narrative (minus Cage Rage of course).
Stanley intentionally gives us a film of an initially very slow pace, and this helps to build a very effective and unnerving atmosphere as things start to go very weird in the Gardner household. Each member of the family is initially quite strange anyway (I am sure that is very much intentional) and the cast all do a great job to make sure that they are as equally weird as Nicolas Cage. Stanley does effectively build an atmosphere of intrigue as the plot does successfully keep things very close to its chest. We are shown many things that we have seen before in films of various genres, but the key is we do not know why we are seeing them as they are often seemingly quite random.
It is this element of ‘random’ that certainly keeps things interesting and makes sure there is more to Color out of Space than just waiting for the next scene where Nic Cage goes mental. The use of the word ‘Color’ in the title is the key, and there is no denying that the visuals used are very effective and provide a deeply unnerving atmosphere that is deeply engaging, and the fact that a lot of it remains unexplained (apart from Elliot Knight’s Ward providing a bit too much voice-over exposition) means that Color Out of Space is certainly never boring, even it is not particularly memorable once it has reached its finale.
For those looking for substance and meaning, Color out of Space may not quite have enough, but for those willing to embrace a visually stunning homage to 80s style visual horror (plus the added bonus of a hyperactive Nicolas Cage) then Color out of Space has plenty on offer.
It may not win any prizes for originality, but with some effectively moody and old school style visuals and atmosphere along with a wonderfully mental Nicolas Cage performance, Color out of Space is an effectively entertaining slow-burn (if slightly generic) chiller.