(director/writer: Richard Stanley; screenwriters: Scarlett Amaris, based on the short story “The Color Out of Space” by H.P. Lovecraft; cinematographer: Steve Annis; editor: Brett W. Bachman; music: Colin Stetson; cast: Nicolas Cage (Nathan Gardner), Joely Richardson (Theresa Gardner), Brendan Meyer (Benny), Madeleine Arthur (Lavinia), Julian Hilliard (Jack Gardner), Elliot Knight (Ward Phillips), Q’Orianka Kilcher (Mayor Tooma),Tommy Chong (Ezra); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Daniel Noah, Josh C. Waller, Lisa Whalen, Elijah Wood; Ace Pictures Entertainment; 2019-USA/Portugal/ Malaysia)

“The horror film is a thing of beauty, and very hammy and funny.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Cult director Richard Stanley (“Hardware”/”The Island of Dr. Moreau”) returns after a long absence as a result of his1996 debacle “The Island of Moreau.” Here he delivers the cosmic horror goods with this outrageous sci-fi B-film. It’s co-written by him and Scarlett Amaris, who smartly adapt it to the screen from an H.P. Lovecraft horror short story “The Color Out of Space,” published in Amazing Stories magazine in 1927. It’s a great adaptation of Lovecraft, one that’s modernized (with internet & cell phones). It’s centered around evil alien invaders of the Earth who are non-existent, of an other world Color, who arrive via a meteorite landing.

The ageing hippie Nathan Gardner (Nic Cage) and his breast cancer recovering wife Theresa (Joely Richardson) and three kids are a supposedly normal offbeat hipster family who have just moved to the sticks in Arkham, Massachusetts (a familiar setting for Lovecraft stories) to get away from city life (it was shot in Portugal). They have renovated his father’s old farmhouse with modern creature comforts, and he’s growing tomatoes in his garden and raising alpacas. The kids are a trip to behold. The oldest is the stoner Benny (Brendan Meyer) who keeps busy doing researches of NASA online, the teenager Lavina (Madeleine Arthur) performs witch-like rituals as healing exercises (practicing to be a Wiccan) and there’s the cute-looking youngster Jack (Julian Hilliard). Also living on their grounds, in the woods, is a mellow old hippie squatter family friend named Ezra (Tommy Chong).

The Color, glowing in a strange shade of pink, is a rock that lands one night near a well in their front yard. Nathan calls in Arkham’s sheriff and mayor (Q’orianka Kilcher) to report the incident, who asks a young hydrologist, Ward (Elliot Knight), his opinion about what landed and is told it’s probably a meteor and they shouldn’t drink the water.

Once the Color lands the bizarre kicks in and the family home becomes the scene of a trippy nightmare with such things as mutated animals, the giant tomatoes ripening too early to taste good and a scary shower scene, Nathan is hypnotized by the colors of his TV and soon everything is starting to turn other worldly. It culminates in their family dog reappearing as a mutant monster and the alpacas turning into melted cheese and the family going crazy as they mutate with everything else.

With an appropriate eerie score by Colin Stetson, a grandiose other world atmosphere, excellent CGIs, a fittingly madcap performance by Cage and a wonderful entertaining acid trip feel to it. The horror film is a thing of beauty, and very hammy and funny.

It played at the Toronto Film Festival Midnight Madness section to appreciative crowds.

Color Out of Space

REVIEWED ON 11/4/2019    GRADE: B