Color Out of Space follows a family of five quietly living on a rural property when a brightly colored meteor impacts the front yard. Soon everyone in the house begins experiencing a gradually intensifying psychosis and the surrounding woodlands slowly begin to mutate. Can they find a way to survive the incomprehensible force that is manipulating their very reality?
Color Out of Space Review
The paradox of Lovecraftian or cosmic horror is that when it is translated well, it likely won't make any sense. When a meteor begins manipulating reality, including time, DNA, and human perception, there isn't much that is going to make sense. When you think about it, any cohesion would be breaking the chaotic flow. So when a film shows a family slipping in and out of psychosis like a wave sliding up and down a beach and a script that seems like it's cutting out pages and gluing them together in other places, it actually makes "sense" in the context of the events. It makes Color Out of Space brilliant yet utterly ridiculous and nonsensical at the same time.
Nicolas Cage may have very well lost his damn mind, but the man knows how to do over-the-top crazy, which, like Mandy, is exactly what this movie needed. As the film tackles a visually-impossible medium in terms of incomprehensible Lovecraftian horrors, the characters lose their sanity as if it consisted of little cardboard tokens from an Arkham Horror boardgame. And Cage exemplifies the hilarious yet disturbing nature of such an experience. But he is by no means alone. Joely Richardson and Madeleine Arthur are fantastic as mother and daughter, respectively, while Elliot Knight does a great job of playing the only guy mentally capable of trying to make sense of it all.
While I praise the film's daring attempt to truly capture the incoherent nightmares of Lovecraft, it does so at the pace of a dying snail for the first hour. As I have prefaced films in the past, it doesn't help when starting a movie late at night when your undead self just got off a long shift sweeping ash and your buddy is getting up in four hours to take the bus out for more souls. So, with that context, the slow pace and relatively low level of happenings may be exaggerated by an exhausted brain. But given the insane and visceral final act, it makes the first hour's gradual build all the more apparent.
By the time the final act was over, I was desperate for more grotesque chaos, especially since I was deprived such depraved beauty for so much of the runtime. The director does everything to make it worth it, using sound, practical and special effects superbly and even flawlessly in some moments to deliver some truly horrific moments. Efrit, Final Girl and I all agreed that the most disturbing scene was a moment of "downtime" in which the family tries to reassess their situation amidst some unsettling sounds brought on by a nasty result of the color out of space doing its thing. It's subtle, but it makes you overthink the brief visuals you had just received. And things only escalate from there.
Perhaps it is because of this chaos that I struggle with fully accepting the slow pace. Other than the opening moments that help establish our characters, the drag afterwards feels unnecessary. The environment surrounding the home evolves at a faster pace than the action, which feels like a tease that only served to frustrate rather than entice. The family is already losing their collective mind and is inexplicably ignoring the ever-growing problem outside, so why not throw in an extra mutated critter or two?...or ten? But I suppose there is some level of appreciation for a movie that has me begging for more.
This film is hopefully a sign of things to come as directors continue to try and bring Lovecraftian and cosmic horror to a visual medium that is often denied by the literature. Just because the ancient gods and their minions are inconceivable by the human senses doesn't mean someone can't take a shot at trying to drive their audience insane from the panic-inducing fear of the beings. Color Out of Space is a great move in that exciting direction.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 8/10 Horror Quality: 7/10 Film Quality: 7/10