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Review: 'Color Out Of Space' (2020) Dir. Richard Stanley

Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Brendan Meyer, Elliot Knight, Q'orianka Kilcher and Tommy Chong


The master of ethereal, absurd horror H.P Lovecraft has his work brought to the big screen in the first of a planned trilogy of adaptations...

Farmer Nathan Gardner (Cage), mastectomy recovering wife Theresa (Richardson), teenage children Lavinia (Arthur), Benny (Meyer) and young Jack (Hilliard) live in seclusion on farmland.

When a small meteorite crashes into the grounds, it immediately emits a powerful scent and pinkish, violet light that begins to bleed into everything close by.

As the farm animals and members of the family start to react and act out of sorts due to the strange lights, creatures and vegetation appearing across the land, it's safe to say things will never be the same again...

From source material by "master of absurd horror" H.P Lovecraft, a setting of a rural alpaca farm in secluded forest, a teenage daughter who practices Wicca and a father played by Nicolas Cage, from the outset this is evidently not a dose of typical commercial horror. The unsettling score by Colin Stetson and slow, brooding and expansive cinematography by Steve Annis work hand in hand to create an immediate sense of isolation and dread.

As time ticks on following the arrival of a glowing pink meteor, sanity starts to unravel for the family and Cage is gradually able to go "Full Cage" whether eating peaches or dealing with psychotic alpacas. Cage certainly gives every role his all, absorbing the unique and odd source material and giving 110% as always, allowing a psychedelic and untapped performance to come out that mirrors the psychedelic surroundings he finds himself in, whilst never losing the emotion that makes him human.

This is a horror of a more alien presence - cosmic rays and tendrils and colours from space infecting the minds and vegetation surrounding it, but with no clear cut explanation as to what it is or why it is here.

The pink / violet shades that look gorgeous on screen in all sorts of light and shade slowly bleed into scenes overtly or covertly, acting as the fuel to the family slowly losing their sanity in more ways than one.

Young stars Madeleine Arthur, Brendan Meyer and Julian Hillard embrace the unnatural occurrences with the right amount of dread and wonder that makes for some of the best, most gripping moments when the cosmic power is unleashed. The mix of visual effects never trumps the practical either; from make-up and prosthetics, to props and use of light and shade to create such powerful, sometimes beautiful but often nauseating, unsettling imagery.

The presence brings out a whole host of unnerving and horrific events if you stick with it for the first hour - Richard Stanley as director and writer, and a self-proclaimed fan of Lovecraft's work - takes the time to establish everything from the less-than-typical family, the surroundings they are in and the slow burning effects of the cosmic presence. Slow burning insanity leads to the better payoffs when events turn to the nightmarish, grotesque and often harrowing such as self-harming and body absorption. And this is stronger thanks to our cast who establish their bond early on, and then we see it strained throughout. 

You will take away strong 'Under The Skin' and 'The Thing' vibes from this, John Carpenter clearly influenced by Lovecraft's work himself. While alien in nature, this is a very human look at struggle and dealing with loss and insecurity.

The effects are striking and dreamlike, but the nightmare is very real using minimal locations, a great cast and chilling sounds and mise-en-scene.

'Color Out Of Space' is a SpectreVision production

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