'Color Out of Space' (2020) Review: A Freak of Madness

Updated on February 7, 2020
ChrisSawin profile image

Chris is a Houston Film Critics Society Member and a contributor at Bounding Into Comics, God Hates Geeks, and Slickster Magazine.

Madeleine Arthur as Lavinia Gardner in, "Color Out of Space."
Madeleine Arthur as Lavinia Gardner in, "Color Out of Space."

Beware the Alpacalypse

This is Richard Stanley’s return to directing after a 20-year hiatus. Color Out of Space takes place in Arkham, Massachusetts where the Gardner family is attempting to live rurally while the family so desperately craves the city life they once had. Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) has invested everything in raising alpacas since they are, “the animals of the future.” His wife Theresa (Joely Richardson) is a cancer survivor that works from home as some kind of stockbroker or at least attempts to since their internet connection barely exists.

Their daughter, Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur), is a full-on Wiccan performing rituals at every opportunity and dreaming of fast food the next. Their older son, Benny (Brendan Meyer), spends most of his time stoned out of his mind while researching black holes and palling around with the family dog Sam. And their younger son, Jack (Julian Hilliard), is pretty much a background decoration until the weird stuff starts to happen.

Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson as Nathan and Teresa Gardner.
Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson as Nathan and Teresa Gardner.

A meteorite crashes in the Gardner’s front lawn and changes everything. A hydrologist named Ward Phillips (Elliot Knight) was already on the Gardner’s property researching their water supply before the meteorite hit and believes that the well on their property has been contaminated from the start. The meteorite is this glowing purple eyesore until it disappears overnight turning their crops into a luscious and vibrant otherworldly oasis while turning actual organisms like wildlife and humans into insane alien monsters. Oh, and Tommy Chong is there for some reason, as well.

I may be remembering this wrong, but I don’t think there was a voiceover at the beginning of the film when Color Out of Space screened at Fantastic Fest back in September of 2019. The film is based on the H. P. Lovecraft short story of the same name, so it’s probably a reading from a segment of Lovecraft’s original material. I kind of preferred the opening without a voiceover though since it’s just this dull quiet as the film showcases this beautiful forest kind of serenity the Gardners see every day. Or I’m remembering it wrong and I half slept through it or something.

The horror film is alluring in its own unsettling way. The colors of the film are alien in the sense that they don’t look or feel like anything we’ve ever seen on earth, but everything has this purple-pink kind of hue to it that comes off as extremely unique. Visually, The Gardner’s home is transformed into a more realistic and subtle version of Pandora from Avatar but with more purple praying mantises, leechy fake boobs, and lightning striking what looks like a glow in the dark peach pit embedded in the ground. How the meteor affects animals and humans results in these nightmarish fusions not unlike what you’d see in The Thing or From Beyond. The Gardners have access to a barn, an attic, and a well and these are the main places the monsters either dwell, are born, or feed.

Nicolas Cage gives an intriguing performance here, as well. He combines those unhinged outbursts you’ve come to expect from the Oscar-winning actor with these awkward caring dad moments and corny dad jokes. Nathan watching his appearance on the local news as he rambles about his love for bourbon as he’s unwillingly labeled a UFO enthusiast and complains about his hair is hilarious. Cage also has a Nicolas Cage level freak out in a parked car and violently abuses produce in a way only he can. As Nathan, Cage fluctuates from being a caring father and nurturing husband to this nasty soulless vessel that is a splitting image of his father. It’s almost as if he’s bipolar or schizophrenic, but Cage’s impression of his father sounds like a drastically exaggerated impersonation of Donald Trump that is somehow more vulgar.

The downside is Color Out of Space tends to drag a bit in its first half. The film moves at its own leisure and sometimes seeing people throw up or have their electronic devices go on the fritz isn’t all that exciting. The payoff is more than worth it, but that slow descent into madness is going to come off as boring to some.

The horror genre hasn’t been the same without Richard Stanley’s presence and, for the most part, Color Out of Space is a return to form. Color Out of Space is a brilliant, bonkers, and terrifying experience. This alien presence is basically resetting life on earth within the Gardner’s property where plant life thrives and organisms are smashed and combined together to make new creatures for a new undefined world. It’s grotesque and mesmerizing even if the journey is a little sluggish along the way.

Nicolas Cage as Nathan Gardner in Richard Stanley's, "Color Out of Space."
Nicolas Cage as Nathan Gardner in Richard Stanley's, "Color Out of Space."
4 stars for Color Out of Space (2020)

Questions & Answers

    © 2020 Chris Sawin


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)