Director: Richard Stanley
Writers: Richard Stanley, Scarlett Amaris (script), H.P Lovecraft (short story)
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Brendan Meyer, Tommy Chong
Producers: Daniel Noah, Josh C. Waller, Lisa Whalen
Music: Colin Stetson
Cinematography: Steve Annis
Editor: Brett W. Bachman
Running time: 111mins
What’s the story: When a meteorite crashes onto the land of alpaca farmer Nathan Gardner (Cage), it causes strange, horrific changes in him and his family.
What’s the verdict: Last year it was Mandy. This year, Color Out of Space is the film where you’re not sure if Nicolas Cage realised he was making a movie, or if the filmmakers simply built a story around whatever they caught him doing.
Nic delivers a thick slice of all-flavours ham as Nathan, a struggling farmer sure the space rock that has landed in his yard is not good news. His fears prove founded when wife Theresa (Richardson) gets nonchalantly bloody when making dinner and he breaks out in a tree bark rash.
Richard Stanley’s first film since 1992’s Dust Devil (he was famously kicked off 1996’s The Island of Dr. Moreau) arrives with excited expectation. Sorry to report then that while this adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft short story may have impressed in the mid-90s, it all now seems very familiar (and Tommy Chong’s forest dwelling stoner horribly dated).
Shocks arrive courtesy of The Thing, The Shining and The Evil Dead, while the digital FX package from Annihilation seems to have been uploaded here in its entirety.
Stanley throws a bucket of plot threads in the air – dimensional rips, screwy timey-wimey, disintegrating family bonds, ancient rituals, self-mutilation – and loses track of half of them. Meaning the lasting impression is of Cage noisily chewing the scenery in his usual way, fretting over alpacas. So many alpacas… There are intentional laughs, but unwanted giggles repeatedly break the tension later on.
It is not all bad news though. Madeleine Arthur (whose amazing eyes dazzle more than the film’s CGI lightshows) and Brendan Meyer are good as Nathan’s kids attempting to survive both the situation and their dad. 13 Finger FX’s gloopy practical creature effects carry a slimy chill, and Steve Annis’ cinematography resembles gorgeous plates from an old book of fairy tales.
So not a disaster, but we were hoping for more after Stanley’s lengthy hiatus.