A quick note: I wrote this several months ago, but found it while I was setting up apps for this website and decided to publish it
It is not often that I find myself going to what in larger cities would be called our art house cinema. Frankly the popcorn is bad and the layout of the lobby/patio is only conducive to about 20 people at a time. Occasionally they will get a film that I have to see. This is the situation I found myself in on Sunday night.
My love for all things lovecraftian in nature is not a secret. My favorite board game is Arkham Horror, and the tl;dr on Arkham Horror is: A board game that takes roughly an hour to set up (assuming you own all the expansions, which I do), and depending on how lucky you all are playing it, can be over in 40 minutes or over in 4+ hours. I am progressively slowly through the actual works of H.P. Lovecraft. It was a goal in 2019 to actually read all of his material that is spilling over into 2020.
I will preface my “review” of Color Out of Space by saying that I have read the short story of the same name. However, I am all for media being adapted when it is converted from page to screen in the name of making a good movie. That being said, Color Out of Space is a very, very good adaptation.
A quick catch up before I move on to actually talking about the film. Color Out of Space follows the Gardener Family as they deal with the aftermath of a strange meteorite crashing into their rural New England farm.
The decision to place the Gardener family’s plight in the modern day is brilliant. The set pieces and minor plots created by simply having things like news crews, cell phones, and satellite internet anchor the story for todays audiences. The rising action of the movie is filled with several attempts by various characters to use their cell phones to contact each other or the outside world, despite always getting the same strange cacophony of noise and static from the phones. They never really do piece together that maybe the really strange meteorite that landed in their front yard is screwing with their cell service. Color Out of Space won’t be showing up in any “What if they had cell phones in horror movies” YouTube videos any time soon.
Nicolas Cage was perhaps the perfect choice for Nathan Gardener. If the 2010s proved anything to me about Nicolas Cage, it is that if you need an actor to portray violence and insanity, Nicolas Cage is your guy. The beautiful violence Cage unleashed in his performance in “Mandy” is once again realized here, with the added edge of the horrors of the void. Cage’s performance frames perfectly the idea that I love most about Lovecraftian horror. All of these terrible things are happening to the Gardener family, and possibly the entire planet, but on the grand cosmic scale of things, their suffering does not matter.
The danger from such cosmic horrors is not necessarily in their malice towards mortals, it is simply that they are so foreign to our plane of existence that we just can’t survive in the same space as them. Nathan Gardener’s fall into insanity completely ignores the chaos around him. He simply doesn’t understand the horror of his existence. We, the audience, simply receive the added bonus of seeing the horrors on screen that the characters can’t grasp.
Color Out of Space is a beautiful movie. Both in the practical and the special effects, it is obvious that director Richard Stewart and his team cared about the source material.