Colour Out Of Space, Richard Stanley’s first film since being fired from 1996’s The Island Of Doctor Moreau, loses itself in what is, essentially, the colour of the inside of your eyelids.
The pink glow in question comes from a mysterious meteorite, which crashes down on the front lawn of the Gardner family, a bunch of city-dwellers recently escaped to rural Massachusetts.
Kooky Dad Nathan (Nicholas Cage) has made alpaca farming his pet project. His wife Theresa (Joely Richardson), meanwhile, struggles to make a living as a stock broker due to the shoddy WiFi. Daughter Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur) is a self-styled Wiccan with a purple streak in her hair; son Benny (Brendan Meyers), an stoner astrologist.
What they’re about to encounter goes beyond their quirks and eccentricities and, indeed, human understanding itself.
Based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, Colour Out Of Space is Annihilation for the midnight movie crowd: unashamedly weird and gory, it milks its premise like Nathan milks his llamas, but lacks the refracted logic that made that film’s obscure otherworldliness compelling.
Coolly and atmospherically shot by Steven Annis, the film finds a mysticism in the pink tendrils that creep out to wreak havoc from the contaminated well, the family’s only source of water. Visiting hydrologist Ward (Elliot Knight) is running tests, but as local squatter/beloved crank Ezra (Tommy Chong, halfway between Willie Nelson and Michael Caine in Children Of Men) predicts, it’s already in them…
Colin Stetson’s discordant synth score layers on the dread as each character undergoes a personal breakdown, from julienne’d fingers to the sort of transformational body horror that would make Cronenberg uncomfortable.
Colour Out Of Space‘s script, written by Richard Stanley and Scarlett Amaris, veers wildly in tone – tender conversations about Theresa’s recovery from cancer to Nathan maniacally blasting a hydra-headed alpaca with a shotgun. There are shades of The Thing in 13 Finger’s goopy creature design, but the film is too overblown to generate the same tension.
Scenes of inexplicable cosmic horror and Nicolas Cage seguing between teenage petulance and fullblown Jack Torrance can’t compete with the simple image of young Jack (Julian Hilliard) lying in bed, terrified, as something creaks above him.
For all of the talent involved, Colour Out Of Space is cosmically adequate. Colour me disappointed.