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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Color Out of Space

March 5, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Color Out of Space

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #545: Color Out of Space

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been to Portugal, or anywhere in Europe, actually, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and forty-five, I take a look at the new weird beard sort of sci-fi horror flick Color Out of Space, which had a limited North American theatrical run in late January of 2020 and was then released on home video in late February 2020 (the movie is also available via various Video On Demand services and, I assume, will eventually be available on Shudder).

Color Out of Space

ColorOutofSpaceDVD

Color Out of Space, directed by Richard Stanley and based on a classic weird fiction story by H.P. Lovecraft, is a movie that’s likely to divide the genre/B-movie audience. Sort of like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Color Out of Space is a well-made, atmospheric, messed up piece of moviemaking. Color Out of Space is also a movie that’s somewhat hollow on the inside and not quite as scary as it seems to think it is.

Color Out of Space stars Nicolas Cage as Nathan Gardner, a man who moved his family out to the country to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern day “city” life. Nathan enjoys living out in the sticks, as does his wife Theresa (Joely Richardson), a cancer survivor who works remotely via computer and phone. Nathan’s teen son Benny (Brendan Meyer) likes smoking pot with the squatter that lives on the Gardner family property (Ezra, as played by Tommy Chong). And Nathan’s youngest son, Jack (Julian Hilliard), is like ten years old and could probably live anywhere. Nathan’s college aged (maybe) daughter Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur), is a different story. Despite her sort of hippie/Earth loving/Wiccan persona, Lavinia isn’t too keen on living in the country and, to a certain extent, isn’t down with living with her family, either. It’s almost like she’s rebelling against something.

One night, a rock from space drops out of the sky and slams into the Gardner family property, sending everyone into a tizzy because what the hell happened? Is it a comet? Why did a comet hit their yard? Nathan calls in the authorities the next day to investigate the aftermath of the incident. No one seems to know what the rock is. Well, shit. What are they supposed to do now?

As the Gardner family tries to figure out what to do next, strange stuff starts to happen. Weird lights pop up in the sky. Bizarre insects appear all over the property. There’s something odd going on in the well where the family gets its water. And grass and trees and whatnot start turning purple/pink (magenta?). And that’s just on the Gardner family property. As for the Gardner family, they all start to experience bouts of weirdness. Hallucinations. Lost time. Stretched time. Signal interference. Moments of extreme anger. Theresa accidentally cuts off two finger tips while slicing carrots for dinner. It’s escalating madness.

Now, the only one who seems to know that something is up within the Gardner family is Lavinia. She tries to tell her parents and siblings that they need to leave the property because if they don’t they will all die. No one is willing to act on Lavinia’s feelings or suspicions. For the others, nothing has changed. Outside of the family, Ezra seems to know that things have changed since the comet landed but he has no interest in trying to leave the grounds. And Ward (Elliot Knight), a water surveyor working for the town government, knows that the water on the Gardner property is contaminated with unknown materials and suspects that whatever the hell is going on likely has to do with the water.

Most of Color Out of Space is devoted to the slow destruction of the Gardner family. We see, sometimes in exquisite detail, just how bad things are for all five Gardners. Some of these scenes are terrifying, like the “giant insect” sequence and every time the TV in the living room goes to static. And the bits where magenta light pops up and seemingly goes after the family are truly fear inducing. And what the hell is inside that water well? The CGI special effects are well done, and when you consider the modest budget the movie was made with the CGI is even more amazing. This is where Color Out of Space rocks and rocks hard.

Where doesn’t Color Out of Space rock? First off, the movie is just too long. At almost two hours, the movie drags way too much in the middle, and as you slog through this section of the movie you will openly wonder why what you’re watching couldn’t have been done faster. It probably should have been done faster. I’m going to assume, now that I’ve had time to think about it, that director Stanley wanted this section to go long so he could build suspense and instill a further sense of dread about what’s happening. I respect that and dig that, but, again, is it necessary to drag it out as much as Color Out of Space drags it out? I don’t think it is.

Second, the Gardner family is awful and unsympathetic before the comet drops out of the sky, so when they start to fall apart it isn’t all that shocking. Yes, the family’s dysfunction is accelerated by the comet’s presence, but so what? No one liked anyone before the comet hit the ground, and when they like one another even less afterwards, it just doesn’t matter.

Third, Nicolas Cage is already weird and off putting before the comet appears. When he starts to lose it, it’s cool to watch but it isn’t shocking. It’s like how some people, like Stephen King, believe that Kubrick’s The Shining isn’t all that scary because Jack Nicholson is batshit nuts before he shows up at the Overlook Hotel. Where’s the contrast? Cage also has very little chemistry with Joely Richardson. You don’t believe they love one another at all. That’s a huge problem. They’re supposed to be completely devoted to one another. Cage’s Nathan stuck by his wife through her cancer ordeal. They’re supposed to have an unbreakable bond. You just don’t feel that at all.

Fourth, Madeleine Arthur’s Lavinia is the least likable character in the movie. Her whole Wiccan persona never comes off as authentic, she seems angry for no reason at all most of the time, and she’s just a chore to watch. She isn’t interesting at all and Lavinia is the main character in the movie (she’s the first person we see). That isn’t good. And what’s the deal with the scene where we see Lavinia in bed only wearing a shirt?

And fifth, the ending is confusing. I have no idea what happens. That’s all I can say about it. I don’t know what happens.

The mystery surrounding what, exactly, is happening to the Gardeners is well done. Did Lavinia bring about the comet through her various Wiccan ceremonies and whatnot, or is this comet just a random occurrence? The movie never comes right out and says why what’s happening is happening. We know that the comet/object came out of the sky, but is it a malevolent life form from space or it is something else? Is it supernatural? It could be either. Or maybe it’s all just some random occurrence? That could be the case, too.

Color Out of Space is weird and atmospheric. It’s why you should make an effort to see it. It will creep you out. Just don’t expect a totally fulfilling story. It doesn’t deliver on that. In an overall sense, though? Color Out of Spaceis a real deal cinematic experience. You should make an effort to see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 7

Explosions: One.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: A forest, a weird pagan ritual, hair burning, weird trees, a dog, a woman walking barefoot in a horse barn, barn dope smoking, kids fucking around by a well, a total lack of bottled water, an attic office, a wine cellar, family bullshit, neck kissing, weird sex talk, astronomy bullshit, attempted sex, a comet smashes into the ground, the color magenta everywhere, potential alcoholism, coughing, more pot smoking, seriously bad water, water testing, weird flowers, carrot cutting, serious bloody fingertip removal, massive cell phone interference, weird kid’s drawing, a purple insect, massive TV interference, bloody knife cleaning, missing time, a bloody sink, barfing, a kid flipping out, a weird alien cat, off screen dog killing, more family shit, a cuss word filled family argument, an alien jellyfish, a potential meltdown, gross fruit and vegetables, infected ice, seriously dry skin, more massive TV interference, attempted demonic spell or some bullshit, hand carving, a mass of monsters, lightning, a gross as fuck merging, double barrel shotgun hooey, a giant mass of alpacas, multiple exploding animal heads, weird water drinking, one of the nastiest kisses in cinema history, attempted well rescue, even more TV interference, an alien spider, another exploding head, a very dead human being a giant space tornado thing. Some excellent CGI animation, disintegration, exploding wine bottles, exploding house, a cigarette, and an ending that makes no sense.

Kim Richards? : Big time.

Gratuitous: “and Tommy Chong,” Nicolas Cage, Nicolas Cage drinking coffee on the porch while relaxing in a rocking chair, annoying parenting, Nicolas Cage making dinner, “Necronomicon,” a comet, Nicolas Cage raising alpacas, Nicolas Cage milking an alpaca, Nicolas Cage drinking the alpaca milk that he just milked, a pussycat named “G-spot,” a car that turns itself on, Nicolas Cage talking about liking bourbon, a Volvo station wagon, Tommy Chong, Nicolas Cage singing opera while driving, Nicolas Cage saying “alpacas,” Nicolas Cage taking a shower, Nicolas Cage talking to a peach, Nicolas Cage eating fruit like a lunatic, Nicolas Cage saying “cocksucker!,” a giant space tornado thing, and an ending that makes no sense.

Best lines: “This is private property,” “Is it Wiccan or Alexandrian?,” “Did you manage to cure us all?,” “What are you looking at, Jack Jack?,” “I miss Mom’s pancakes,” “Everybody loves ducks,” “No one eats alpacas,” “It’s been six months. Don’t you think we should try?,” “I feel… tarnished,” “What the fuck was that, an earthquake?,” “Are you looking at my legs?,” “Let me guess. Boston?,” “You think it’s radioactive, like kryptonite? Christ, I hope not!,” “Hem, that is straight from the Mother’s tit,” “It’s drawing the lightning,” “Did you plant those?,” “Dinner’s ready,” “Shhh! It’s talking to me,” “What exactly am I supposed to be listening to?,” “I’m seriously disappointed in you,” “Nothing has been fucking with this place,” “God, what is that smell?,” “Everything’s going to be A-Okay,” “Just fix that dish! Okay?,” “What’s happening to them?,” “Let’s take them in the house,” “You fucking cocksucker! You cocksucker! Cocksucker!,” “How can any of this be possible?,” “The car is not happening,” “It looks like we’re going to have to walk out of here,” “It smells like something died down here,” “Please don’t make me go in there,” “What happened to your arms?,” “They’re not my family,” “Beautiful. Like flowers,” and “It’s so beautiful.”

Rating: 7.5/10.0

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Things to Watch Out For

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Atomic Apocalypse: This is apparently some sort of low budget British post-apocalyptic sci-fi action movie about a woman looking for her family in the wasteland and running into trouble at various points. Based on the trailer this movie seems to have a nice look to it, and that’s what usually matters with these kinds of movies. Is the future depicted cool looking and consistent? Definitely worth a rental. This movie was, according to imdb, originally known as Black Flowers. What the heck does that title mean? Anyone out there see this movie at a film festival? Anyone at all?

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2 Graves in the Desert: The great Michael Madsen and William Baldwin star as, apparently, the bad guys in this low budget thriller about a young couple that’s kidnapped for some reason and then terrorized by Madsen and Baldwin. The trailer is pretty messed up, and it looks like both Madsen and Baldwin are having a ball chewing the scenery and over-acting and whatnot. I definitely want to check this one out, mostly to see if the two stars are the rat bastards they appear to be playing and if the movie is as messed up as it seems.

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The Furies: This appears to be a kind of low budget slasher movie about a woman that finds herself being stalked by a masked weirdo in the woods and, later, finds out that she isn’t the only one being stalked by masked weirdos. The trailer for this is fantastic and it definitely looks like something that could be cool as hell. And I’m shocked that this kind of plot hasn’t been used before. I mean, it almost sounds like a riff on “The Most Dangerous Game,” doesn’t it? Again, definitely want to check this out, too.

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

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Color Out of Space

Nicolas Cage– Nathan Gardner
Joely Richardson– Theresa Gardner
Madeleine Arthur– Lavinia Gardner
Elliot Knight– Ward
Tommy Chong– Ezra
Brendan Meyer– Benny
Julian Hilliard– Jack Gardner
Josh C. Walter– Sheriff Pierce
Q’orianka Kilcher– Mayor Tooma

(check out the rest of the cast here

Directed by Richard Stanley
Screenplay by Scarlett Amaris and Richard Stanley, based on the short story by H.P. Lovecraft

Distributed by RLJE Films

Unrated
Runtime– 111 minutes

Buy it here