Review by Sean Boelman
The long-awaited return to the director’s chair for cult favorite filmmaker Richard Stanley, Color Out of Space, adapted from the short story by H.P. Lovecraft, is a mind-bending new sci-fi horror flick. Thanks to some legitimately disturbing imagery and committed performances all-around, this ends up being one of the scariest movies to come out in a while.
The film tells the story of a family whose property is struck by a meteorite, releasing a mysterious aura affecting those who come in contact with it in unusual ways. Like any good Lovecraft tale, the point of this movie is not the story itself, but rather, the eerie atmosphere and the sense of dread it inspires within the viewer. Although this is by no means a traditional horror film, it is arguably scarier than any jump scare would be.
Certainly the strongest aspect of this movie are the terrifying visuals inspired by Lovecraft’s writing and gloriously brought to the screen by Stanley. Although this style of horror likely won’t appeal to everyone, those who are a fan of Lovecraftian horror will find that the nightmarish sights of the film hauntingly creep their way under one’s skin.
On a technical level, the movie is surprisingly accomplished. While there are a few moments in which the film does show itself as a B-movie, Stanley’s command of the craft often allows the movie to feel a lot bigger than it actually is. Even though the film is set almost entirely on a single property, excellent production design, solid CGI, and wonderful cinematography will immerse the viewer totally into the movie.
The only true shortcoming of the film is that it takes a bit too long to get going. Clocking in at around an hour and fifty minutes, this movie is longer than usual for the genre, but for the most part, it earns that runtime. However, in building up to the more disturbing second and third acts, the only mildly creepy beginning delays the audience’s suspense for a bit too long.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this film is that the character development is quite strong. With the movie being adapted from a short story, there wasn’t a particularly big foundation in terms of characterization from the source material, so Stanley and co-writer Scarlett Amaris are able to make the film their own in this way.
Nicolas Cage gives a performance that is admirably bonkers as the patriarch losing control over his family. As one would expect, this movie allows Cage to go all in, and that he does, delivering a turn that is both extremely fun to watch and shockingly nuanced. Other highlights in the cast include Joely Richardson, Julian Hillard, and Tommy Chong, all of whom get their chance to shine.
Color Out of Space delivers exactly what sci-fi fans would hope for out of a Lovecraftian horror flick. This film is virtually guaranteed to gain a cult following because even though it does take a while to get moving, it is truly chilling.
Color Out of Space plays across the country for one night only on January 22 before opening in theaters on January 24.