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  Color Out of Space Hue Of Horror
Year: 2019
Director: Richard Stanley
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Elliot Knight, Tommy Chong, Brendan Meyer, Justin Hilliard, Josh C. Waller, Q'orianka Kilcher, Melissa Nearman, Amanda Boothe, Kenneth Harle
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) has moved his family out of the rat race and into a forest home where he can raise alpacas, the animal he believes to be the future of farming. His wife Theresa (Joely Richardson) is a cancer survivor, and has not felt quite right ever since, despite getting the all-clear a few months ago: her career on the stock market gives her something else to think about, but it's not enough. Eldest child Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur) is not taking the isolation well and has resorted to black magic to pass her free time, while the middle child Benny (Brendan Meyer) opts for smoking cannabis, and youngest Jack (Justin Hilliard) is left to drift. But what's in the sky up there?

Why, it's a meteorite, and it's come down to earth in this quasi-faithful spin on H.P. Lovecraft's tale, the one he considered his best. Lovecraft had not necessarily done tremendously well out of adaptations of his work, at least as far as the credited stuff went, though his influence went wider than that and could be seen in blockbusters such as Ghostbusters or Doctor Strange. It appeared the best way to draw from his efforts was to use it as a jumping off point and go off on your own tangent, allowing your creative obsessions to be tailored to the prism of Lovecraft's vast, uncaring universe of entities and geometry that were impossible for puny human minds to observe or know.

There were no Elder Gods, his most lasting contribution to monster lore, to be seen in this movie, but director Richard Stanley was able to apply his spin on the basic outline that managed to adhere to the uncanny angle of the meteorite's warping effect on the woods outside his invented town of Arkham, while haring off on such indulgences as allowing his star Cage to bring the eccentricity that was a sign he was enjoying himself or at least appreciated the material he had been given to play. In truth, Cage had become so meme-worthy on the internet that these performances often looked like links between various bits that could be clipped and uploaded into online conversations at random.

While he was off doing his thing, the rest of the cast were more subtle (save for stoner shaman in the woods Tommy Chong, apparently showing up as a favour to him), which did not so much ground Cage in reality than contrast with his oddness. The result was a tone not like very much else, even as Stanley referenced other Lovecraft adaptations in his visuals, from The Dunwich Horror to From Beyond, bringing a mounting hysteria mixed with a style that bizarrely leaned on goofiness rather than mindblowing terror. Yet if you knew of the director from his interviews and his accustomed "Is this guy messing with us or does he believe what he's saying?" demeanour, then you could easily identify that in his approach to the text, and adjust your mental calibrations accordingly: it may be funny, but it was paradoxically serious too.

Lovecraft may have only grown in influence since his death in relative obscurity back in the nineteen-thirties, but his collections of accumulated cosmic ghastliness in short story form were informed by something other than a perversion of religion: you had to face up to the fact he was a massive racist and bigot as well. There was no getting away from it, that did affect his fiction, for while he did not include explicit racism, the terror of the unknown and unfamiliar was what made his tales memorable and shaped his imagery - his prejudice was part of his madness, and that madness created his horrors. Stanley baited his inspiration by casting black British actor Elliot Knight in a major role, even making him his narrator (not that he said a whole lot) and everyman who observes the corruption the titular colour brings, to point out he may admire the writer, but did not ignore nor excuse his problematic aspects. Though it was far too long for such a basic plot, once the weirdness kicked it all was forgiven; it was probably impossible to translate Lovecraft perfectly, but as an impetus for other talents, he had value. Music by Colin Stetson (the whole thing sounds great).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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