HomeMoviesFantastic Fest Review: 'Color Out of Space' aka the 'Anti-Annihilation'

Fantastic Fest Review: ‘Color Out of Space’ aka the ‘Anti-Annihilation’

Photo Courtesy Fantastic Fest

The best thing about Richard Stanley’s return from a two-decade directing hiatus, Color Out of Space is, that it takes the ‘U’ out of the ‘colour’ from HP Lovecraft’s short story.

That’s speaking strictly as an American who also hates cheques (but oddly enough enjoys queues). Everything beyond the title turns into a mostly aimless mess. It’s like Annihilation, except it forgets to add in smart characters, strong social analysis, multi-dimensional characters and even the slightest sense of wonder at its own magic.

Set in an unnamed, isolated town, it follows the Gardner family (comprised of Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson with three kids), who are just settling down from tiff at dinner that sets up their one-dimensional roles in the house when a mysterious glowing meteor strikes their front lawn.

The daughter is Wiccan, the oldest son is neutral to everyone, and the youngest son has even less to work with while Cage and Richardson are in a nearly loveless marriage. She’s a broker struggling to work with clients as she’s stuck in the sticks, and he’s going through a midlife crisis that’s led him to buy alpacas, “the animal of the future” as he explains their value as a meat source.

That day may come sooner than expected as the meteor slowly starts to shift the properties of the area including the family. Except, no one understands or considers the possibility of such a thing, especially not the mayor who’s brought in to help but instead is always upset with someone and yelling, only demanding press coverage as she’s focused on the town’s new infrastructure plan.

The film quickly becomes an allegory for climate change, but a strong shift from the aimlessness in the first act soon turns for the worse as little is done beyond showing a news clip to suggest to Cage that things are changing. He still doesn’t recognize the change, and in a daze, continues with his performance until the purple haze from the meteor envelopes virtually all of the property and his family. Then Cage turns the Cage Dial to 15 while the rest of the cast was seemingly given instructions to act in a whole new movie because all of their characteristics were amplified as well by the meteor.

The climate change allegory doesn’t carry much weight as the rest of the movie is more focused on ramping up the cosmic energy and turning the movie into body horror. To everyone’s credit, there are some good prosthetics and a creative creature build and transformation, but that does little to push the story to any interesting path. It’s more frustrating than it is complex.

There’s an occasional flash of brilliant composition in Color Out of Space and its use of color as a semi-antagonist is fine, but the parts barely make up the whole, and that’s a low bar.


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