Richard Stanely (an uncredited writer for the disastrous 1996 film Island of Doctor Moreau) puts on his director's cap for Color Out of Space, a new cosmic horror flick based on a Lovecraft story wherein a literal color from space crash-lands on a farm and starts wreaking havoc.
The film version follows the Gardner family, a new-to-the-country bunch who seem to be running from some unexplained trauma and for whom farm life is still an adjustment. Alpacas roam free, as do the children. Patriarch Nathan (Nicolas Cage) seems well-suited for the new environs, experimenting with recipes and curating a top-notch wine cellar, while wife Theresa (Joely Richardson) and the kids (Madeleine Arthur, Brendan Meyer and Julian Hilliard) struggle to get onboard while maintaining their Alexandrian witching rituals, love of weed and dog ownership respectively; in the distance, a squatter named Ezra (Tommy Chong, somehow) keeps to himself with his cat, G-Spot. A cancer subplot is briefly mentioned, though never really explored.
And then it comes—from space! A bizarre, hot-pink meteor crash lands in the Gardner's front yard, bringing with it a…parasite? Or a fungus? Or some kind of alien? Nobody really knows (Lovecraft loved unknowable horror, didn't he?), but a super-hot hydrologist named Ward (Elliot Knight) is pretty sure it contaminated the water, so no one should drink it. But they already did drink the water! And if it's not Nic Cage's character phasing into a bizarre surfer dude rendition of his hateful (and dead) father while exploding on his family without warning, or his son bafflingly unable to put the fucking alpacas back in the barn, it's Joely Richardson's absorbing other people and transforming into a horrifying John Carpenter-esque hybrid spider-person.
Where Color Out of Space fails is in trying to take itself seriously, particularly in the meandering setup and exposition. Characters deliver "As we both know, X happened before we came here," kind of lines, and clunkily introduced supporting cast members make no discernable mark or difference. When things do finally get cooking, however, it becomes a crazy enjoyable monster movie with some pretty cool practical effects and a wildly unsettling payoff. Stanley's direction thrives in the moments that could have felt silly but suddenly seem high-stakes, and Cage really leans into…his whole thing in a way he hasn't since Con Air (this is meant as a compliment). Everything becomes a chaotic mess of sci-fi creeps and scares, shot surprisingly beautifully against an untamed nearby forest.
It feels old-school in a way studios have been trying to replicate to no avail in recent years (go to hell, Tom Cruise Mummy), and it must have been a complete blast to make. For audiences, however, it's tricky to navigate a solid hour before things get weird. But get weird they do, and for those who just want a bit of outlandish sci-fi/horror, this is just the ticket.
+When it gets going, it's so weird and fun
-It's definitely not, like, good
Color out of Space
Directed by Stanley
With Cage, Richardson, Arthur, Meyer, Hilliard, Chong and Knight
Jean Cocteau Cinema, NR, 111 min.