Horror auteur Richard Stanley’s first full-length directorial effort in twenty seven years since his firing from The Island of Dr. Moreau, Color Out of Space is possibly the best adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft to have graced the screen not to be directed by Stuart Gordon. There’s no better way to sum up what one can expect from an adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft starring Nicolas Cage than to say it is one among his most beautiful looking films and even one of his most unhinged works to date. One can only set their expectations high up when seeing the possibilities of what a combination like Nicolas Cage and H. P. Lovecraft can bring out, but knowing what it is that Richard Stanley was able to bring to the screen with such a combination, the results are far beyond what one could ever comprehend. If there’s anything else worth noting, here’s hoping that we get to see Richard Stanley get to work behind the camera again far more often in the future.
Nicolas Cage stars as Nathan Gardner, the patriarch of a New England-based family who had traded city life for a relaxed life in the country. His family consists of the wife Theresa (Joely Richardson), the teenage son Benny (Brendan Meyer), the youngest son Jack (Julian Hilliard), and the daughter Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur). Out of nowhere, an asteroid lands in their yard and causes strange things to happen to each of the family members one by one – yielding terrifying, but also otherworldy results. The nature around them starts blooming to dazzling results yet the influence of the meteor’s impact on their lives can be felt through the way in which it also corrupts their own involvement with their surrounding environment. As expected from Lovecraft’s story of the same name, Richard Stanley’s vision remains every bit as dazzling as it is utterly baffling and terrifying.
It’s hard enough trying to adapt an author like H. P. Lovecraft to the screen, especially following up how Stuart Gordon had offered his take on the job with a film like Re-Animator back in the 1980’s. For his first directorial outing in over twenty years, Richard Stanley enters the game again with quite a bang – unlike any other sort of comeback. As one could ever want from a film based on Lovecraft, you’re not expecting any ordinary sort of horror story but if anything else best sums up the sort of wonders that come along the way with watching how Richard Stanley builds up what made Lovecraft’s work every bit as beguiling as it is. With adapting Lovecraft’s own words to the big screen, Richard Stanley still keeps everything so mysterious to the point where you’re also left wondering what more could ever happen with the perfect atmosphere already having been set up for yourself to experience. The title Color Out of Space already describes something that one’s eyes would never have seen before, almost to the point it was a beauty of a blinding quality, then everything that follows based on its own influence only becomes even more baffling, as Lovecraft would have wanted it.
Calling a film like this visually dazzling would be one way of describing it, but mix it in with Nicolas Cage going crazy every moment he has the opportunity to just let loose, you have what already presents itself as the perfect material to be completely baffled by. If anything else perfectly distinguishes how well does Richard Stanley understand the sort of horror that Lovecraft has been known for. Lovecraft’s brand of horror is best characterized by going far beyond what’s already known to the human eye and even when it comes to characterizing the “color” would already be something of a great challenge to a director much like Richard Stanley. But Richard Stanley adapts more than well enough to establish it as an omnipresence, which makes it every bit as beautiful as it is wholly terrifying just to think about. As Lovecraft would have imagined it, Color Out of Space never holds back when it comes to showing you the very possibilities of what could happen under the influence of an unidentifiable force, but it never hides that there’s still a certain quality that draws you in before it corrupts a balanced lifestyle.
There comes a point in Color Out of Space where it becomes a little too much for its own good, but the whole ride is something that must be seen in order to be believed. It’s a film that’s every bit as indescribable as the color of its title is, because Richard Stanley indulges you into that world so much to the point where you can also feel terrified just for knowing so much more. But given the sort of things that H. P. Lovecraft was known to have believed in, there’s so much more that Richard Stanley could ever do with the material in order to create something that could perfectly resonate with a modern audience – in order to retain the impact that his text leaves upon one’s own mind. With this being only the third full feature film that Richard Stanley has ever directed, it’s more than fitting to call Color Out of Space a perfect welcome back to the screen. It’s everything that one could ever want from a Nicolas Cage movie based on the writing of H. P. Lovecraft, but also a whole lot more at that.
Watch the trailer right here.
Images via TIFF.
Directed by Richard Stanley
Screenplay by Richard Stanley, Scarlett Amaris, from the story The Colour Out of Space by H. P. Lovecraft
Produced by Daniel Noah, Josh Waller, Lisa Whalen, Elijah Wood
Starring Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Brendan Meyer, Julian Hilliard, Elliot Knight, Q’orianka Kilcher, Tommy Chong
Release Date: September 7, 2019 (TIFF)
Running Time: 111 minutes