Colour Out of Space
Mandy hit screens in 2018 with one hell of a sense-assaulting bang, exploding both our imaginations and our eyeballs with ruthless and gut-busting abnormality. Nic Cage was released from his shackles (uncaged?) and soared into the upper echelons of absurd brilliance with an incredible performance that so many actors would have failed to grasp and fallen short of.
As the title may suggest, Colour Out of Space is studio XYZ Films’s next attempt to reach the success of the cult phenomenon. Cage is re-recruited to inject his unique acting style into this project, inspired by and adapted from the HP Lovecraft short story The Colour Out of Space, first published way back in 1927. The story sees a farming family’s life change before their eyes and against their will when a meteorite, beaming with energy, lands in their front yard. At first, it seems a strange and marvellous occurrence, with the media descending like hyenas on the Gardners’ property, but before too long, Nathan (Cage), his wife Theresa (Joely Richardson) and their three children succumb to a series of illnesses brought on via the contaminated water supply, and their heavenly woodland habitat dissolves into an extraterrestrial nightmare.
In the psychedelic Colour Out of Space, magenta is in, and it is quite literally everywhere. Cinematographer Steve Annis is a kid in a candy shop, given the freest of all reins in an attempt to make the movie a cosmic blast out of the far corners of human creative capability. He does this excellently, making the core theme of sci-fi irregularity as exuberant as one could with visuals that scald deep into the synapses of the brain like a heavy acid trip.
So much of this work must have been conducted post-production that you have to admire the work of the actors on screen, who make the magic happen with very little idea of what it will look like. Cage is no stranger to this genre of film, relishing in the surrealism of the project like the experienced professional he is whilst also taking the liberty that he can and acting in his own special way. There is a standout performance from Madeleine Arthur, who plays the Gardners’ Wicca-practising daughter Lavinia. By no means a newcomer to the game, Arthur gives an engrossing performance, starting out as the presumed heroine before battling her own demons within the restrictions of her life and the infection.
As for the movie’s structure and amalgamation, there tends to be a theme or golden rule with films like Colour Out of Space and, arguably, Cage’s whole recent filmography. If it’s not wild and bonkers enough, it simply looks weaker as a whole. Compared with its predecessor Mandy, the film comes across as slightly tame and then a little illogical in its approach to its storyline, relying more on the outlandish alienism of its plot than following up with the characters who are quite powerfully presented early on. The question becomes: why bother writing them in the first place if they have no real future contribution to the narrative?
There certainly are laugh-out-loud occasions and times of darker reflection, along with naturalistic acting from Elliot Knight, playing a hydrologist who possesses a far more grounded, real-world perspective on the activities taking place at the Gardner farm in Arkham; but rather than thicken this script with greater detail, focus is placed on making the movie appeal to a cult audience, making it more comical, infusing more “Cagism” and outrageous moments as the movie walks down the path to insanity. The picture will invigorate the following of Cage’s work, but on the whole Colour Out of Space misses out on the brilliantly unashamed incongruity of the best works in its genre.
Colour Out of Space is released in select cinemas on 28th February 2020.
Watch the trailer for Colour Out of Space here: