I went into Richard Stanley’s (Dust Devil, Hardware) Color Out Of Space excited but cautious because as someone who’s read the work of H.P. Lovecraft since his early teens my expectations were (perhaps unreasonably) high.
Then again, if you’re at all familiar with Stanley’s firing from The Island Of Doctor Moreau–to be replaced by John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, Prophesy) it’s a pretty fascinating story in and of itself. Besides, to be fired and replaced by a director of Frankenheimer’s caliber and reputation is almost a complement–you could be forgiven for thinking that he’d handle the chaos on screen much better than he did with it in reality.
And truth be told, Color Out Of Space is…okay. It’s not great–I’ll get to that in a moment–but it has an arresting visual esthetic and is a genuinely interesting movie
And why it is Elliot Knight isn’t more of a known quantity I have no idea though he has a great screen presence.
Though what I was irked about Color was the idea that the short story–essentially an alien invasion tale–emphasized themes of isolation and helplessness in the face of the undescribable, which the movie does fine. What it doesn’t do well is ground it’s characters in the world of the normal, the mundanity we all take for granted. Because virtually every one in Nathan Gardner’s (Nick Cage) family are odd and quirky, including Nathan Gardner himself.
So, when the meteorite crashes into their yard and infects first the plants, then the animals of the four-legged variety before moving on to bipeds (humans) it was hard to tell if they were acting as they were because of the baneful influence of the meteorite, or they were just being weird all on their own.
Which was more than a little bit distracting.
When all is said and done Color Out Of Space isn’t a terrible movie–or even a bad one–though it is a bit underwhelming if you’re at all familiar with the source material.
Which is why I’d like to direct you to the 2010 version of the same story, directed by Huan Vu.
It isn’t as visually striking as Stanley’s movie, but feels more Lovecraftian.