One of my favorite movies of the past few years was “Mandy.” Starring Nicolas Cage and directed by “Beyond the Black Rainbow’s” Panos Cosmatos (son of the director George P. Cosmatos, director of the Stallone flicks Cobra and First Blood Part II). Part arthouse and part schlocky throwback horror, “Mandy” was a surrealist cosmic fantasy horror hybrid that made reminded me of my love of the aforementioned schlocky B-horror movies of yore. Now, a year or so later comes the second film that fits in that “phantasmagoric” category starring Cage as well, titled “Color Out of Space,” based on an H.P Lovecraft short story.
Directed by Richard Stanley, whose last film was released over 20 years ago in 1996, “Color Out of Space” is about the isolated Gardner family- Nathan (Cage), his wife Theresa (Joely Richardson) and their children Lavinia, Benny and Jack (Madeleine Arthur, Brendan Meyer and Julian Hillard). After a meteor crashes on their front lawn, strange, otherworldly things start occurring that bring the Gardners out of their peaceful life living on a idyllic Alpaca farm (yes, alpaca). Other than the previously mentioned “Mandy” and Stuart Gordon’s “Re-Animator” and “From Beyond,” there isn’t really anything quite like this film that I’ve watched, and it is great.
One of its biggest strengths right off the bat is its distinct visuals. Much like “Mandy,” color has a huge part in this film, with a reoccurring neon pink hue blending into the wilderness the Gardners live in. The synth-heavy ambient score, done by Colin Stetson, who previously did Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” fits excellently with its accompanying visuals, not to mention the stellar practical effects work and the stomach-churning body-horror aspect. It all mixes together to form a cohesive atmosphere that I just adored.
Another thing I enjoyed was the cheesy dialogue. While there is one big flaw with it – Cage’s acting and delivery was either hit or miss, but never consistent. The film however, has campy dialogue that feels right at home in a b-horror throwback. Oddly enough, it works with the slowly building tensity the film has. Some films may not stick the landing when it comes to this, so it’s worth noting that the film manages to pull it off, managing to have effective pathos while at the same time having the strange cheese to it.
While still having some flaws, “Color Out of Space” is a great movie that exceeded my expectations. It checks all the boxes, it feels like a love letter to some of my favorite films in the horror genre, while still being its own thing. While only seeing a short limited US release as of now, I highly encourage readers to get their hands on this film as soon as it has its eventual widespread release sometime this year. It may not please most horror audiences, but it hits the spot for the audience it aims to please, and in general is just a fun time.
Edited by Adam White, Abbie Barth