Color Out of Space (2019) Review – A Frightful Messenger from Unformed Realms


What makes a Horror Film work is still under debate. It is a much more complicated genre than comedy. Often filmmakers make the film disgustful and gory rather than scary. Yet, there is a sub-genre to Horror, Lovecraft which is extensively being pursued. This is often emphasized by cosmic elements, containing high color grading shots and treatment rather than shock or gory elements. Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space, tick marks the elements efficiently. It includes some of the year’s most efficiently pulled off VFX shots and treatment that literally leaves you spellbound.

In addition to it’s cinematic eye-candy shots, Color Out of Space embeds an actor known for his horrid characters, Nicolas Cage, giving the film a cult nirvana shade. The film is inspired from one of the most famous short stories by author H.P. Lovecraft and was co-written by director Richard Stanley, who has done a commendable job, however, the climax of the film is not something everyone would be able to digest. Before coming to the end, let’s unfold the beginning.

The Story

The film centers on the Gardner family, who stay in a remote house near Massachusetts, away from the populous life of a city. Nathan (Nicholas Cage) inspires to become a farmer and is raising Alpacas as a livestock substitute, for him they are the future of cows, while his wife Theresa (Joely Richardson) is preoccupied with recovering from a recent mastectomy and works online for a firm, full time. Their eldest son Benny (Brendan Meyer) is off getting stoned most of the time, teen daughter Lavinia (Madeline Arthur) is ardently pursuing black magic wishing an escape from this mundane life in the forest. The youngest son Jack (Julian Hilliard) is much quieter but has a prominent part to play.

Color Out of Space, that takes too much time to establish the key characters finally instills the conflicts when one night the sky turns an almost indescribable shade of Pink, and a meteorite crashes into the family’s front yard. While the meteorite crumbles away soon, strange things begin happening in its wake. Nathan observes unseen flowers blooming in the yard, the family’s phones, computers, and televisions are constantly being distorted by unknown waves that render them all useless.  The Gardner’s themselves began exhibiting signs of strange behavior as well, and a series of unfortunate events lead to massive bloodshed and grotesque.

Lovecraft and It’s Elements

Colors Out of Space isn’t particularly a horror film but stays true to the Lovecraft sub-genre (named after the writer of these fictions, H.P. Lovecraft). Hence, it won’t promise any threatening character or shock elements, but the cosmic visualization is above par. Richard has been able to visualize the original story on a cinematic level magnificently, giving the cosmic element, a somewhat shade of pink, that plays a dominant role in the overall film. These color spectrum are first seen in the fallen meteor that spreads to almost everything in the Gardener’s farmyard, from their well to each and every plant and even to the Alpacas (kind of gory).

Richard also brings to the film’s additional otherworldly element—Cage’s performance—organically into the material, without losing any of its total strangeness in the process. Cinephiles, who have seen Cage’s Mandy and it’s visual brilliance combined with his ace acting performance, would likely remember some of it, in this film too. However, once the things start getting crazy, there is no stopping to Cage’s weirdness, that is quite a fun to watch.

Putting everything else to shame, what is most striking of all in the film, is it’s Climax. It is something that might have been seen earlier in trippy psychedelic films but never in this sort of a colorful pinkish way, and it is going to leave you literally speechless and fascinated. The combination of Spectrum with some treatment shots that tickles your mind is kind of imagery that leaves its impact on your grey matter for some longer period of time. Not sure about the engrossing story, but the visuals are particularly transfixing.

Color Out of Space is a new addition to the sub-genre of horror, that is Lovecraft and the cosmic visualization is indeed breathtaking, yet it lacks the very foundation of a story narrative, the characters and an engaging plot. The dramatic elements and conflicts come late and don’t indulge much with the characters until the very end, thus keeping the viewers in a long waiting queue. Yet, for anyone who is riveted by cosmic sci-fi or loved Nicholas Cage’s Mandy, then they should really check out this one, as it sure does is one of it’s kind of a film which is rare and not easily forgotten.

Color Out of Space is streaming on Netflix.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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