RogerBW's Blog

Color Out of Space (2019) 29 August 2023

2019 horror, dir. Richard Stanley, Nicolas Cage, Madeleine Arthur: IMDb / allmovie. There's something in the water…

Much to my surprise, this film really worked for me. Even though it's a big-budget adaptation of a Lovecraft story, so I didn't go in with high hopes. Like Huan Vu's Die Farbe, the film takes the fairly bare story and adds material; but here most of that additional material is character. Mum has had a mastectomy and is having self-image problems; Dad has moved the family out to his late father's farm in the middle of nowhere, bringing alpacas; the kids are dealing with it in their various ways, not being generic moppet children. It's not deep characterisation, but it's effectively established.

So when something from the skies crashes near their property, they each try to deal with the weirdness in their own ways. And, each in their own way, it doesn't help – not the Cage Rage, not the Wiccan-adjacent ritual, not the motherly smothering protection. That's an excellent way of displaying the essential futility of human effort in this Lovecraft story (and to be fair many others), without simply stepping back and recounting the deaths. And with female characters, too!

(I think one could make a fair argument that "deaths" is not in fact accurate in at least some cases…)

There are certainly trappings of conventional horror here, especially in the visual effects, and I found those as tedious as I usually do; but this is a story about the breakdown of reality and the pointlessness of struggling against it, and on that level it works remarkably well.

I talk about this film further on Ribbon of Memes.

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See also:
Die Farbe (2010)

  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 08:51am on 30 August 2023

    Arguably, this is the best mainstream adaptation of a Lovecraft story ever made.

    Nicholas Cage brings just the right amount of Cage to the film to make it work. He's having some interesting hits recently, and his portrayal of Count Dracula was very good.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 10:05am on 30 August 2023

    Of the ones I've seen it feels most cosmic-horror, as opposes to generic horror with some Lovecraftian names. (I'll admit Howard sometimes did some pretty generic horror himself – it would be hard to make a truly great, or even a very good, film of Herbert West - Re-Animator…)

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