Review: COLOR OUT OF SPACE, Love Will Tear Us Apart

Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson star in director Richard Stanley's adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's personal favorite story.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas (@peteramartin)
Review: COLOR OUT OF SPACE, Love Will Tear Us Apart

A magnificent beast of a film, Color Out of Space is simultaneously foreboding and haunting.

Directed by Richard Stanley, who cowrote the screenplay with Scarlett Amaris, the latest adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's personal favorite story (originally published as The Colour Out of Space in 1927) introduces its own distinctive flavors from the outset. The woods of Western Massachusetts are dark and deep, yet the sunshine of a morning's day is quite beautiful as Lavinia Gardner (Madeleine Arthur) performs a witchcraft ritual by a peaceful lake before being interrupted by a stranger.

Lavinia and her family have moved from the big city to the sticks, and she yearns for escape. The stranger is Ward Phillips (Elliot Knight), a hydrologist who is investigating reports of a lowered water base and other concerns in the rural area.

Lavinia's parents Nathan (Nicolas Cage) and Theresa (Joely Richardson) are quite happy that they've finally been able to make the big move, and their youngest child, the bespectacled Jack (Julian Hilliard), also appears content, but Lavinia and her brother Benny (Brendan Meyer) are equally dissatisfied. Benny smokes his troubles away with weed, while Lavinia practices witchcraft and wishes to get away.

The family has its troubles. Theresa is finding it quite challenging to continue her work as an online broker, what with poor internet and all, while Nathan struggles to keep a positive attitude as he tends to their expensive flock of alpacas. (?!) Still, the family is clearly a loving domestic unit, affectionate and understanding of each other's needs.

One night, a meteorite of unknown origin slams into the front yard. Soon, everything changes for the Gardner family, and not in a good way.

Screenwriters Stanley and Amaris have preserved the bones of Lovecraft's story, while merging the author's thematic concerns with their own, as well as presenting the characters with a modern sensibility. Shown from a different perspective, the mysteries of the original story hold true as the Gardner family experience many "strange days."

The action unfolds against a richly-imagined visual landscape. In the films that kicked off his career (Hardware and Dust Devil), Stanley made apparent that he is an artist of the highest order and ambition. He makes beautiful use of the cinematic canvas, empowering the cast to show the effects of the meteorite-strike in their faces and in their voices, especially.

It's a sweeping journey that encompasses the deepest connections between family members, and what it is, exactly, that can hold them together and yet break them apart. From beginning to end, Color Out of Space is revealed as a vivid portrait that crawls into the brain and somehow alters the nervous system.

Review originally published during Fantastic Fest in September 2019. The film opens in select U.S. theaters on Friday, January 24. Visit the official site for theater locations and to buy tickets.

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Joely RichardsonLovecraftMadeleine ArthurNicolas CageRichard Stanley

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