Nicolas Cage and the word “bonkers” have formed a pact in so many films, they have both achieved National Treasure status. We love a film that goes off the rails, especially when it features Cage unhinged. Pair him with Richard Stanley, a notoriously offbeat personality himself who hasn’t directed a feature film in decades, in an adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft short story, and you have a sci-fi/body horror must-see. Be warned. This is pretty gruesome stuff, thus we have an instance here where the meek shall not inherit.
Cage’s Nathan Gardner lives on an idyllic farm outside the fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts. He grows fruit and raises alpacas while his wife Theresa (Joely Richardson) works from home as a Commodities Trader as she recovers from breast cancer. Their three children cover the bases from Wiccan teen Livinia (Madeleine Arthur), stoner son Benny (Brendan Meyer) and the precocious, bespectacled child Jack (Julian Hilliard) and they all have an emotionally astute dog named Sam. They also have an old hippie squatter, Ezra, living in a shack on their property. The fact that Tommy Chong plays him would typically feel out of place, but between the South American camelids, the witchcraft ceremonies, and Cage being Cage, Chong feels like a subtle choice.
When a young hydrologist, our narrator, named Ward (Elliot Knight) arrives to survey the land for a dam project, fate hands him and the Gardners a strange glowing pink meteorite which lands in their front yard one night. Of course no good could come from such an alien presence, but the slow burn at the heart of this film explores the psychological powers it holds over the family instead of what could easily have turned into a War Of The Worlds scenario. One by one, the Gardners lose their minds and then some, with Cage delightfully transitioning from mild-mannered Dad to dashboard pounding, shrieking psycho during the course of the second act.
At this stage of the film, their rural idyll goes haywire. Richardson, in particular, rises to the occasion with her fraught-filled arc of a cancer survivor who barely catches her breath before things grow far more dire. The stunning scene in which everything changes for her drew audible gasps from the audience, myself included. Almost everybody feels the effects of this pink invader as it changes brains, bodies, and even the landscape. The final acts lost me with its jumbled storytelling and inability to tie everything together. Still, it manages to deliver many disturbing body horror images in the David Cronenberg tradition. Some moments brought to mind The Thing and Altered States. Those who can’t tolerate multiple gross-outs should steer clear.
Despite the many references to other filmmakers, Stanley’s return feels welcome, since he puts his own unique stamp on things. Instead of starting out at eleven, Cage modulates his performance well. Yes, eventually gallons of blood get splattered all over the place and people get reduced to wheezing, bubbly blobs, but don’t we want that in our heady exploitation movies? Although no home run, Color Out Of Space swings for the fences and earns my respect.
Glenn Gaylord’s 50 SHADES OF GAY SCALE: Color Out Of Space gets a 50 out of 50. While it features no LGBTQ+ characters, one cannot deny that this film is as queer as it gets. It’s literally about the gayest color of all time taking over the world.
By Glenn Gaylord, Senior Film Critic
Color Out Of Space is currently making theaters pink again worldwide.