Ever since Mandy was released, Nicolas Cage has transgressed into a new stage of his long and fruitful career. Audiences delight in these bold moments where he becomes unhinged in movies like Mom and Dad or Mandy. It’s undeniable, this is the era of rage cage.
Mandy was produced by SpectreVision, which besides making niche, Director-driven indie films, the company is known because one of its founders is actor Elijah Wood. Then along comes Color Out Of Space, another SpectreVision production starring Cage and has the legendary director Richard Stanley at the helm. It is not surprising that I, like many others were itching to see this movie.
Richard Stanley burst onto the scene as the writer-director of Hardware and The Island Of Dr. Moreau. Famously, he was ousted from the troubled Moreau set after only a few days as the film’s director. He later was secretly invited to be a casual observer of the production by playing one of the creatures under heavy makeup. There is a whole documentary on that you should see called Lost Soul. For 24 years since The Island Of Dr. Moreau Richard Stanley voluntarily fell into obscurity. Until now, with Color Out Of Space.
I was thrilled to attend the premiere of Color Out Of Space at the Vista Theater here in Los Angeles. Here is my spoiler free review.
The story revolves around a family in a small town, who’s lives are changed forever after a cosmic event. Nic Cage (“Face/Off”, “Con Air”) plays Nathan, who lives in a small farmhouse with his wife, played by Joely Richardson (“Event Horizon”, “Nip/Tuck “TV”) and their three kids.
First off, do not expect Mandy going into this. Color Out Of Space does elevate at a similar pace, but it has a totally different tone than Mandy. Color Out Of Space is based on a 56 page short story by H.P. Lovecraft. The film bookends with Lovecraft prose. Soon after this alien force takes hold of the countryside, the story evolves into a rare breed of cosmic body-horror.
The highlight of Color Out Of Space was the use of both practical and visual effects to tell this classic tale. I applaud the use of practical effects here, old school horror fans will rejoice in these creature prosthetic’s. These body horror elements reminded me of early David Cronenberg.
The film even delivered a few laughs thanks to the family’s herd of alpacas. These lesser known llama like creatures are a tertiary part of the family. By the end, I promise you will never feel the same way about alpacas again. Color Out Of Space is a visual feast, a dynamic sound design helped to bring this story to life as well.
Those are the positives. On the other side of the spectrum, I left the theater feeling the characters and story were under developed. There was one character building scene early on between Nic Cage and Joely Richardson, but even that didn’t strike any emotional cords. A shadow of a family history is present, but nothing truly took shape from a writing standpoint. The short story is only 56 pages long, perhaps this is why the character work felt thin.
All of the acting was strong. The cast includes Tommy Chong (“Up In Smoke”) aptly playing the role of the mystic, recluse neighbor. The teenagers of this family were played with natural honesty by Madeline Arthur (“”Big Eyes) and Brendan Meyer (“The Guest”). Child actor Julian Hilliard was very sweet and convincing as the younger son who requires a little more attention.
Like all the other SpectreVision movies, Color Out Of Space is not for everyone, and that is by design. Fans of Richard Stanley’s prior work simply must see this movie. Calling all Lynch or Cronenberg fans and even Sci-fi Horror devotees. If Nic rattles your cage this is surely one to see.
At very least, Color Out Of Space marks the illuminating return of a master filmmaker. Richard Stanley welcome back sir, we are glad you brought the alpacas with you. Since this is a very sensory film I recommend you see it in the theater. Color Out Of Space releases January, 24th 2020.