Color Out of Space (2019) – movie review

It’s difficult to find good movie adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories. Out of the few I’ve seen, “Re-Animator” (1985) and John Carpenter’s 1994 movie “In the Mouth of Madness” are the best in my opinion. “Re-Animator” is a loose adaptation of the story “Herbert West: Reanimator” (1922). “In the Mouth of Madness” is not a direct adaptation of any Lovecraft story, it’s more of a tribute to the author’s weird fiction. (If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. It’s a pulpy blast of B-movie madness with a memorable performance by Sam Neill.)

So when I heard about this recent film version of Lovecraft’s story “The Colour Out of Space” I was curious to watch it. Especially after I learned it was directed by Richard Stanley, the South African director who had seemingly disappeared from the movie scene after being fired from that production of “The Island of Dr. Moreau” (1996). I enjoyed Stanley’s first two films “Hardware” (1990) and “Dust Devil” (1992), which have since become considered “cult classics”.

In “Color Out of Space,” Nicolas Cage plays Nathan Gardner, a farmer living out in the sticks with his wife, three children, and a small herd of alpacas. Yes, alpacas. One night, a small meteorite crashes into his front yard, setting into motion a series of increasingly strange events. If you want to know more about the original story, please check my review here.

So, what kind of movie is “Color Out of Space“? I’ve read reviews that complain this film is dull and boring. Well, if you are looking for a jump-scare-filled, action-packed thrill ride, then this is probably not for you. What it is, is a slow-building, visually beautiful, modern adaptation of Lovecraft’s story. The first half of the movie is all about atmosphere and building suspense, just like the original story. In the second half of the film, things really start to warp into the weird with some fairly gruesome scenes of body horror involving both the humans and the animals. You have been warned! It was refreshing to see some high-quality practical effects, instead of the endless reliance on CG in most modern movies.

Nicolas Cage’s presence guarantees a certain chaotic or bonkers edge to the film, and he doesn’t disappoint. I also enjoyed Joely Richardson’s understated performance as Theresa Gardner, Nathan’s medicated wife. There’s a scene with her chopping vegetables that actually made me close my eyes, horror-lite boy that I really am! The three actors playing the children are all worthy of mention, too. In fact, there isn’t a bad performance in the movie, despite Cage’s occasional histrionics. That’s why we love him, right?!

The review site Rotten Tomatoes sums it up well with: “A welcome return for director Richard Stanley, Color Out of Space mixes tart B-movie pulp with visually alluring Lovecraftian horror and a dash of gonzo Nicolas Cage.” I highly recommend it for fans of Lovecraft’s stories. For anyone else, I would say watch it if you are in the mood for a different, more cerebral kind of horror movie; one that is heavy on atmosphere and characters, but also offers some creepy, and at times trippy visual effects. In fact the whole movie looks beautiful, especially the outdoor scenes.

Thanks for reading!

-Wakizashi

36 thoughts on “Color Out of Space (2019) – movie review

    • Yes, I have. Remember that I am a Lovecraft fan so am probably more forgiving than more “serious” critics. Not that Ol’10 is particularly serious. Seriously annoying, perhaps πŸ˜‰πŸ‘Ί

      Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, Portman and Oscar Isaac. About an alien entity warping part of the jungle somewhere and mutating the fauna and flora. Similar trippy visuals but Color Out of Space is the better film, imo.

            Amazon japan doesn’t have access to that version, unfortunately. Looking into it, I do remember hearing about it before. Low-budget, slow and atmospheric. It sounds like it’s pretty faithful to the story.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I watched Annihilation to see if I wanted to check out the books. I decided to give them a pass πŸ˜€

            Thanks. I don’t like getting into horror movies, even if only cosmic horror, without some sort of referral. I don’t handle visual horror of any kind well at all.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I’ve found that as I’ve got older, my reaction to horror movies has changed. They affect me a lot more than they used to. I can’t stomach the really grotesque and gory ones anymore. Also, for some reason Japanese horror movies really freak me out. Like, I just won’t even try to watch one anymore. They seem to be really good at psychological horror movies. You know, the ones you can’t get out of your head afterwards! The oringinal “Ringu” was pretty bad and don’t get me started on “Ju-on” (The Grudge). I had to switch off the TV when it came on one night. I have the spine of a jellyfish when it comes to scares!!

            Liked by 1 person

  1. I really liked this movie! I looks beautiful and it is fun to watch. They also captured that feeling of dread very well. It is a good adaptation. The film reminded me a lot of another Nicholas Cage movie named Mandy (2018). That also has these neon colours and Cage going crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That does sound intriguing, I’m adding it to my IMDb watchlist. I really like Lovecraft, but haven’t seen many adaptations… One evening, when I feel like watching something strange, I might sit down with a supply of beer and watch this πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey there. Thanks so much for your comment. By chance, I’ve just found your last few comments in my spam folder, no idea why they would end up there. 😯 Sorry for appearing to ignore them. Glad to hear you enjoyed this film. Lovecraft can be very hit or miss. He had a particular style which can read a bit over-the-top, but there are some really cool ideas in his stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this movie. It’s trippy and terrifying… in a soft kind of way. I’ve actually been loving Cage in these recent horror movies, especially Mandy. I think horror is perfect for someone with his acting style. Could see him doing an Evil Dead style film.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve not seen any of the films you mentioned, but I added this one to my queue. I need to try to remember to read the original story first, though. And it was funny reading your comments with Bookstooge. Japanese horror is my favorite, I loved both Ringu and Ju-on. πŸ™‚ But I do know what you mean about how getting older has changed your outlook on it. I don’t watch nearly as much horror as I once did, and I get tired of the bloody and gory far more quickly. The psychological I still enjoy, just not as often.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I think Annihilation is by far the better movie. I can’t really take anything seriously with Nicolas Cage in it- he’s just too lazy playing the same bonkers nut in everything. Some people seem to like that, but it just mystifies me. I remember when he played a medieval knight with an Elvis complex/Californian drawl in Season of the Witch which really borderline offended me- its like he wasn’t even trying. I don’t mind wasting my time with a bad movie as long as the cast and crew were trying, but Cage is pretty much like Bruce Willis now.

    There are unemployed actors with better ability who would give more effort but they don’t get a shot.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I need to re-watch Annihilation as it kind of lost me towards the end. I quite enjoyed the book, mainly for its atmosphere. As I mentioned in another comment, I’m a Lovecraft fan so am more forgiving with most adaptations unless they really stink.

      I hear you about Cage. I guess it’s his name that can help some “smaller” films get made, which is a positive thing. But there’s only so much of his madness that I can take. I thought he wasn’t too Cage-y until the last part of this film.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Agreed, Wakizashi: In the Mouth of Madness might be John Carpenter’s last truly great movie (though I still think Escape from L.A. is sort of an underappreciated B-movie masterpiece that could have only emerged from his singular imagination).

    Liked by 1 person

      • Love EFNY. But if you’re looking for a serious, worldbuilding sequel, EFLA ain’t it. Instead, it’s a gonzo sendup of B-movies that’s really more of a big-budget remake of EFNY, but with all of Carpenter’s idiosyncratic instincts on steroids. I might even argue it’s a better screenplay than the first one, but the movie doesn’t have the scrappy, indie spirit of its forebear. But the mere fact that a major studio actually wrote a check for Carpenter to make EFLA makes it worth the price of admission!

        Liked by 1 person

          • Just don’t go into it expecting a straight sequel. EFLA was an excuse for Carpenter and Russell, who at the time were still at the apex of their Hollywood influence, to make an anti-blockbuster. But it’s got some thought-provoking themes, for sure, as good sci-fi should, and Russell absolutely owns the character of Snake Plissken. (And he cowrote the movie with Carpenter.)

            Liked by 1 person

          • I would argue that Russell did his best work with Carpenter. Big Trouble in Little China is one of my all time faves. And what *hasn’t* been written about The Thing!..

            Liked by 1 person

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