Friday, January 24, 2020


by Patrick Bromley
My favorite movie of the year so far.

Color Out of Space, director Richard Stanley's first narrative feature in almost 25 years, is the best Lovecraft adaptation since From Beyond in 1986. It's a neon-soaked nightmare, a headtrip made all the more hellish because of how much humanity Stanley infuses into the proceedings before Shit Goes Bad. We meet a family we like and care about deeply, then helplessly bear witness as some unknown, unspeakable terror tears them apart -- or, in some cases, fuses them together.
Nicolas Cage plays Nathan Gardner, a father who has recently relocated his family of five out to a secluded house in the woods where he raises Alpacas. His wife Theresa (Joely Richardson) continues to work remotely and fights a cancer diagnosis; his daughter Lavinia (Madeline Arther) has taken up witchcraft. One night, a meteor hits the property and infects the family's water supply, creating gorgeous pink flowers everywhere but having much, much worse side effects on everything else.

As a lifelong Nicolas Cage fan (who has also recently begun working my way through his entire DTV filmography, an exercise I've found enjoyable much more often than not), we are currently living in the best possible timeline to be a fan of the actor. Between this and Mandy, Cage is really giving himself over to outrageous and extreme visions of horror. It's clear that he trusts Stanley the same way he trusted Panos Cosmatos, and the result is a performance that is fully dialed in: he's quirky and funny and sweet and believably human in the early going, becoming more unhinged and aggressive once the meteor's effects have taken hold. In short, yes, he goes full Cage, but he completely earns it here. The madness that overtakes him is heartbreaking because we like him so much.
It's not just the Cage character, though. Color Out of Space is kind of a heartbreaking movie, one about the dissolution of the family told as Lovecraftian nightmare. Sometimes it's the little things that frustrate and cause tension, like a bad WiFi signal. Sometimes it's big life decisions that may or may not prove to be a mistake, like moving the family out to seclusion and buying a bunch of alpacas. It can be disease that threatens to take loved ones away, or the rebellious phase of teenage years. These seeds are sown before the meteor even hits, making the problems of the Gardner family very real and very relatable. The arrival of the Color out of Space creates and then ramps up even the tiniest bit of aggression and animosity among them, twisting and mutating their loving family into something unrecognizable the way those things like Sickness and Time only can. Great horror films like The Shining or Cronenberg's The Fly also double as tragedies. Count this movie among them.
Reportedly, Richard Stanley already has a deal to make two more Lovecraft adaptations with producing partner SpectreVision (the genre company run by Elijah Wood, Daniel Noah, and Josh C. Waller). On the basis of evidence provided by Color Out of Space, that is the best possible news. This is a bold, confident film, one that's weird but never cold and disturbing without the nihilism of, say, Stanley's own Hardware. It's a horror film that's not afraid to go to really big places. It presents us with a true, exciting vision. Richard Stanley is back, and he's brought the best Lovecraft adaptation in 30 years with him.


  1. glad you liked it, and it's getting good reviews. i personally didn't like it at all, it made me feel like watching The Thing

  2. I love how the relationships in the family are set up before you-know-what hits. Cage and Richardson are so natural together - and so believable. I wanted to hug them both multiple times. (And then was very upset that they got, um, interrupted, when they were, um... hugging - not fair! And maybe that is part of the point.)

  3. I'm so looking forward to this, and happy to hear you liked it. Your recommendation of 'Close Calls' was definitely worth it. My one qualm is that I really want to see older Cage play a guy that doesn't lose his mind. Maybe it's asking for too much.

  4. As a father of a family of five it will be awhile before I can watch this. But I want more Cage/Lovecraft please

  5. This was upsetting. One of the most thrilling first halves of any movie I’ve seen in a while, before it goes full squish squish.

    1. ^^^ Yep, the set-up and middle act of "Color Out of Space" are supremely confident and entertaining as heck. Saw it at a packed screening at an AMC in Times Square, and the crowd were quiet and laughing alongside Cage (not at him, which was pleasantly surprising) when he started losing it. Nice to know Tommy Chong is still alive and that "Jay and Silent Bob Reboot" wasn't a fluke.

      Unfortunately a lot of the movie's punch is lost if you've seen Alex Garland's "Annihilation." Visually and thematically (and even the electronic score at certain key moments), "Color Out of Space" is clearly influenced by that 2018 thinking man's sci-fi flick (and Carpenter's "The Thing," and Darabont's "The Mist," and Cronenberg's "The Fly," and...). But hey, if you're directing your first narrative film in four decades (!) I can't blame Stanley for "borrowing" from the best to make sure his directorial rebirth packs as strong a punch as the budget will allow. Worth seeing for the balancing act of showcasing Lovecraftian ideas of what outer space monsters without shape don't look like... until they do.

  6. If you ever wanted to see Nicolas Cage milk an alpaca then this is the movie for you.

  7. Excellent review Patrick. The movie has stuck with me since i saw it last Thursday night. I hadn't seen any trailers, so I went into the movie blind. The visuals and the sounds were horrifying, especially the fusion of two people specifically. I got the vibes on the movie feeling like Carpenter's The Thing and it also felt like Annihilation in ways too. I recommended this movie to the movie group that I am in almost right after I finished watching and I will recommend it to others if they are in the mood for something different and challenging.