Color Out of Space (2019)
Directed by: Richard Stanley
Written by: Scarlett Amaris, Richard Stanley
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Elliot Knight, Tommy Chong, Brendan Meyer, Julian Hilliard
Unless you are an H.P Lovecraft fanatic, you won’t find much enjoyment here.
The career of Nicolas Cage is an extremely interesting one.
Going from prestige Oscar winning films, then straight to DVD cash grabs and now he is seemingly in his in weird artsy indie phase. One of those films being 2018’s “Mandy,” a bizarre, heavy metal-like acid trip that showcased all of Nicolas Cage’s strengths as well as being one of the best films of the year.
Unlike “Mandy” however, “Color Out of Space” would not provide the same thrills, excitement or satisfaction; as this film is the definition of a slow burn. Now, slow burn horror films can work, like 2015’s “The VVitch” and Netflix’s “Gerald’s Game.” But those films have something that slow burns require: Pay off. It’s unfortunate to say that you won’t find any of that here.
A slow burn with no real satisfaction.
Like stated previously, if you’re going to make your film a slow burn, you’re asking the audience to have patience; the assumption being that they will be rewarded in the end. That’s unfortunately the biggest mistake this film makes. There’s no real satisfying conclusion, payoff for the audience’s time or any sort of definitive answer for why anything was happening in the first place.
There needs to be some kind of answer, some kind of conclusion. But instead, You have a 1 hour and 51 minute film that goes nowhere. There’s no answers as to any of the events that unfolded and you’re just sitting there bored asking yourself “why?”
Instead of being given an answer as to why, you’re thrust in the middle of Tommy Chong’s acid drug trip and a remote family slowly going insane. Again, this could make for an interesting premise if there was any sort of story. But you just don’t care and no amount of Nicolas Cage freak outs will make you care.
Gorgeously Shot and Visually Stunning.
This is the one thing that “Color Out of Space has going for it.
For all the gripes about story issues and character development, At least this is a good-looking film to stare at. There’s a unique use of color, especially with the pinks and the purples that really make each shot stand out. A lot of the usage of fog, light and darkness really blend together to make a well-crafted atmosphere and you really get the sense that the director was trying to create something special.
Outside of the gorgeous looking color and cinematography, there’s also a great use of practical effects. There’s little to no use of CGI blood, every injury feels raw and painful, and there are some really unique models and creature design. But for every interesting decision that the director makes, you can’t help but feel like it’s been done better before.
Derivative and Unoriginal
Despite being based on an H.P. Lovecraft novel, this type of story has been done countless times.
Where this film ultimately fails to carve out its own piece of creativity isn’t it similarities to other iconic films. This movie feels like a cross between John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” “Mandy” and 2018s “Annihilation.” The use of color was done better in “Mandy,” the creature designs were literally rip-offs of Rob Bottin’s brilliant design in “The Thing” and the atmosphere and use of cinematography felt like a knockoff version of “Annihilation.”
Nothing in this film feels original, even the story structure of a group of people isolated slowly going mad was literally done better in “The Thing.” There’s a fine line between homage and ripoff, but this film feels like plagiarism.
“Color Out of Space” is a film that attempts to be the next “Mandy,” but ultimately comes across as derivative and uninspired. There’s a lot to love from a technical standpoint but there are so many better film options to choose from. So unless you are a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft or you just want to see a Nicolas Cage freak out, there’s not really much to recommend here.