Color Out of Space
7th October 2019 8.30pm at Prince Charles Cinema
8th October 2019 6.10pm at Vue West End
10th October 2019 8.30pm at BFI Southbank (NFT)
How do you depict a colour that cannot be registered by humankind? As an amorphous neon pinkish-purple, answers Color out of Space, Richard Stanley’s first feature in over 20 years – a philosophically tinged sci-fi horror flick adapted from H.P. Lovecraft’s short story of the same name.
In an attempt to film the unfilmable, Stanley takes the dense subject of an alien life force plummeting to earth on the Gardner farm in the fictional Arkham, Massachusetts. The unidentified foreign object smashes to earth and starts its treacherous takeover. First, it seeps into the natural world, contaminating the water supply; then it wreaks havoc on the Gardners. In spite of all the jump scares and eerie occurrences, what it actually is is a question that remains decidedly obfuscated by the loud and bombastic movie.
The script is slow to establish the plot. Perhaps this is because Color out of Space is bookended by a forgettable voiceover which, wholly different in style, seems to be tying a bow around a separate space-themed movie. The opening act is wishy-washy and seeks a little too overtly to establish that the Gardners have grown accustomed to life in the sticks. Stanley taps into the hilarity of modern fatherhood, defined by complaints about shoddy WiFi connection, questionable home cooking, and sibling spats.
Nicolas Cage plays the family man in question. When the balance of his rural life is thrown off-kilter he slips manically in and out of a possessed state. (Apparently it’s a symptom of crossing the extraterrestrial path.) The feature stands as yet more proof that Cage can throw himself into the kooky depths of any role – and proof that he shouldn’t. His character lacks as much clarity as the colour encroaching on earth. Cage’s isn’t the only character with manic characterization. His daughter Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur) dabbles in witchcraft – a trait which is never reincorporated into the plot. It’s one of many extraneous strands that remain loose and straggling through the film.
The hyper-dramatic visuals, in conjunction with the high-stakes sound design, stress the potential for a highly ambitious film that never materializes. Initially, the elusive capabilities of the life force piques the mind’s interest. But Color out of Space requires ever-larger imaginative leaps as it suggests that time itself has been reconstituted. Ultimately, the feature exhausts the mind and forces you to realise that the otherworldly colour everyone keeps talking about is really just a neon pinkish-purple.
Color Out of Space does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.