Film review: ‘COLOUR OUT OF SPACE’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

Colour Out of Space crosses two film genres, the b-grade horror movie and the Nicolas Cage going nuts movie. Consequently, the film, while technically well-made, will have mostly cult interest and may leave general moviegoers scratching their noggins.

Set in the present day but based on a 1927 short story by that pervasive sci-fi horror influence, author HP Lovecraft, Colour Out of Space centres on the Gardner family, dad Nathan (Nicolas Cage), mother Theresa (Joely Richardson), black magic-obsessed daughter Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur) and dope smoking son Benny (Brendan Myer) who have moved to the apparent peace and quiet of the country following Theresa’s illness. The laid-back locale turns into a nightmare world for the family when a strange meteorite lands in their backyard and triggers all sorts of weird happenings such as strange plumes of psychedelic colours emanating from the water well, animals turning into grotesque creatures and family members being afflicted by bouts of knife-wielding insanity.

Despite a few gory moments and the odd pop-out fright, though, this film isn’t particularly scary or exciting. It takes a long time for anything particularly odd to happen and the various manifestations of this strange entity are so random and disconnected that their impact is diluted; there isn’t enough of a sense of a specific malevolent force as we might find in a haunted house movie.

The film also undercuts the horror with some quirky comedy. Exactly why the film needed a cameo by Tommy Chong as a venerable hippy and weed aficionado who squats on the Gardner’s property is a mystery. Then there’s Mr Cage. At first he’s relatively restrained playing the responsible if dorky dad, although he’s weirdly obsessed with the family’s pet alpacas whom he seems to like more than his kids. When the ghostly alien force gets hold of him, though, he goes full Cage with crazy-eyed rants and manic tantrums aplenty. It’s ridiculous but amusing enough to add some spark to an at times dull film.

While the plot of this film is oddly reminiscent of a straight to vid 80’s horror flick, director Richard Stanley (who was briefly associated with the infamous 1996 production of The Island of Dr Moreau) and cinematographer Steve Annis give the film a surprisingly sophisticated and atmospheric look. Colin Stetson also provides an appropriately ominous score.

Based on a Lovecraft story and with clear references to movies like Pet Sematary, The Shining and John Carpenter’s The Thing, this middling film is mostly for horror buffs who enjoy a homage to the genre’s gods. By itself, though, it’s just ok.

Nick’s rating: ***

Genre: Sci Fi Horror.

Classification: MA15+.

Director(s): Richard Stanley..

Release date: 6th Feb 2020.

Running time: 111 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.

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