Review: Nicolas Cage is at his batshit best in psychedelic horror, ‘Colour Out of Space’

Review: Nicolas Cage is at his batshit best in psychedelic horror, ‘Colour Out of Space’

Words by Emily Komiyama


Nicolas Cage’s oddball antics and H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmic horror tale make an unnervingly brilliant combination.

Anyone who is familiar with the work of H.P. Lovecraft knows that every one of his tales is woven with a chaotic, cosmic, psychedelic horror that is, at times, difficult to stomach.

If you’re aware of the author, then you should be somewhat prepared for the wild ride that is Color Out of Space. If not, strap in, because you’re in for an out-of-this-world experience.

Based on Lovecraft’s 1927 short story of the same name, Color Out of Space follows Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) and his family shortly after he moves them to his childhood farm for a more peaceful life. Though when a meteor crashes into their yard one night, strange things start to occur and eventually all kinds of seven hells break loose.

It’s a horror trope we are all used to. An unexplainable event happens, dogs bark at invisible entities, everyone starts acting strange, someone gets murderous or possessed, but Color Out of Space feels like something different.

Director Richard Stanley has returned after a twenty-five-year hiatus with something unique and unnervingly grotesque. Committing to Lovecraft’s visual imagery, and bringing extra weirdness with the casting of well-renowned oddball and underlying genius Cage, Stanley has brought the author’s life to work respectfully, which is no easy feat.

And creating a monster out of … yep, a colour … is truly an achievement in itself.

The technical work on this film yo-yos between stunning and lacklustre. Steve Annis’ cinematography and colour grading are gorgeous and near flawless. Considering the unknown entity trying to rip everyone to pieces is merely a vibrant shade of lilac, it would be detrimental to not get this right.

It is visually wonderful, however it does fall short in the CGI and screenplay department (Cage milking an alpaca may divide audiences). Thankfully, a lot of the horror sequences are practical and don’t heavily rely on computer graphics, so only a few scenes here and there will disappoint.

Cage is also supported well by his co-stars. Joely Richardson as his wife Theresa carries just as much weight and delivers easily one of the most disturbing scenes to be seen in a horror film in the past few years.

Tommy Chong, from Cheech and Chong fame, adds some comic relief playing basically himself. Madeleine Arthur, Brendan Meyer and Julian Hilliard are also all solid as the family clan.

Colour Out of Space may have a shaky start, but once the ball gets rolling it stampedes through to its final moments. Expect your senses to be ambushed and your stomach to be turned.

And if you’re a Lovecraft fan, enjoy all the scattered easter eggs. Films like this don’t come around often and it will gather its troops over time. We’ll be thanking Cage for its cult status in a few years. It’s already well on its way.

Colour Out of Space is out now.

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