By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
After taking an extended break from narrative feature filmmaking, director Richard Stanley is back with an adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft short story, The Color Out of Space. Stanley is no stranger to Fantastic Fest, as he attended the festival in 2014 in support of the documentary, Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau. The documentary feature reveals some insight into how Stanley, an intelligent and creative filmmaker, was fired from the Moreau adaptation despite his bold and exciting vision for the movie. Given his talents as a filmmaker, and his visionary mind, it is only fitting that he take on a Lovecraft story.
Nicolas Cage stars as Nathan Gardner, a loving husband and father who has moved his family to his family’s rural property in Arkham, Massachusetts. Tired of the hustle and bustle of the city, Gardner has traded in the stressful urban life for a more quiet and peaceful existence as an Alpaca rancher and gardener. After a strange meteorite strikes the Gardner property s bizarre chain of events occurs forever changing the ecology of the land and affecting the sanity of the Gardner family.
To be perfectly honest, it took me some time to process the bizarre and strange events which take place in this story. And after further reflection, I am very much blown away by the visionary brilliance of Lovecraft’s story, and marveled by Stanley’s ability to bring that vision to life. Stanley and his crew have done some exceptional work creating the visuals described vividly in Lovecraft’s story and the effects team and makeup department deseve high praise for some truly startling creature work. It is a hauntingly beautiful mix of the visceral, surreal, and extraordinary.
So at this point, my beloved readers are probably asking, “if this movie is so great, why such a low rating?’ Well, despite tbe brilliant filmmaking and storytelling, the wild card casting of Nicolas Cage in the lead role is a gamble that proves costly. As insane as his character, Nathan Gardner is supposed to grow, Cage drives it way too over-the-top and becomes a major distraction. As entertained as I was by Cage’s wild antics, it really did take me out of the story, and definitely takes away from the gravity of the story.
Thankfully, his co-stars Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Brendan Meyer, Julian Hilliard, and Elliot Knight give solid performances which help keep the film better rooted. So, despite the the amazing work by Richard Stanley in his feature film comeback, the uncaged Nicolas alnost details this otherwise great sci fi horror flick. It is a movie I still highly recommend, but with a Nicolas Cage warning.