Color Out of Space is a supernatural invasion film that slowly creeps towards its characters and the audience.
The Gardners, an eccentric family living on their private estate, receive a shocking surprise in the form of a hurling meteorite crashing outside of their home. Even though it seems easy to describe (a pulsating, glowing piece of space matter), every member has a different interpretation of the discovery. The father, Nathan (Nicolas Cage), is repulsed by its odour. The mother, Theresa (Joely Richardson), is effected by it on a psychological level; as are the kids. Most notably Jack (Julian Hilliard), who communicates with it as the matter seeps into the ground. The environment slowly becomes tainted, and ecosystems are injected with bright neon spurts. The matter increases its intense power over the Gardners, making them lose control of their own presence and making them either delirious or unconscious for several hours at a time.
Adapting H.P. Lovecraft’s short story of the same name, director/co-writer Richard Stanley (The Island of Dr. Moreau) is careful not to exactly define the mysterious infection. Instead he and co-writer Scarlett Amaris evolve those perspectives by alluding to individual overpowering forms. The most compelling example is Nathan’s, which Cage expectedly has fun playing around with. It’s almost as if he’s becoming an extraterrestrial from the inside out, as he becomes re-fascinated by human language and traits. While this extreme idiosyncratic behaviour would’ve been more effective if the family wasn’t so quirky and peculiar in the first place, there’s no denying the film’s potent, unsettling suggestions of evil.
Stanley takes the freaky nature of his film even further by incorporating some truly haunting mutations. The practical effects are astonishing, and elicit the type of unnerving response from movie goers that begins with uneasy chuckles and ends with silent scares – much like the entirety of this solid sci-fi flick.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie