2020 is going to be a mind-bending year in many respects, one of which is the impending arrival of Color Out of Space, the acclaimed comeback film from cult South African director Richard Stanley. The H.P. Lovecraft adaptation stars Nicolas Cage as Nathan Gardner, an average Joe whose farm and family are threatened when a meteorite falls from the heavens, forcing them to reckon with “a mutant extraterrestrial organism as it infects their minds and bodies, transforming their quiet rural life into a technicolor nightmare.”
Color Out of Space, adapted from Lovecraft’s short story “The Colour Out of Space” by Stanley and his frequent collaborator Scarlett Amaris (Replace), finds Cage returning to the phantasmagoric territory of Panos Cosmatos’ hallucinogenic horror-thriller Mandy, one of Paste’s top movies of 2018. Stanley’s film shares a production company with Cosmatos’, RLJE Films, and appears a similar blend of dream and nightmare—it’s literally rose-tinted, but with a certain, otherworldly menace lurking beneath its surface.
“Meteorites are generally no more dangerous than ordinary rocks,” explains Elliot Knight’s investigator, assuring Nathan and his family there’s nothing to fear from the fallen object and its accompanying pink light. But the meteorite vanishes as mysteriously as it appeared, and the Gardner family (Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur and Julian Hilliard) are beset by occurrences they can’t explain: Strange plants spring from the earth, animals turn up maimed, blood flows from the kitchen sink and, perhaps most disturbingly, their young son Jack (Hilliard) hears an unseen “man in the well” whispering to him. The threat is everywhere and nowhere: “It’s in the static, it’s in the moisture. It’s in here, it’s out there,” Tommy Chong’s shaman-esque character warns. “What’s out there is in here now.”
Despite what he’s seen, Nathan insists everything is under control, but soon enough, he’s at his wits’ end—we see him firing a shotgun, screaming and covered in blood (an all-too-familiar sight to folks who’ve had the pleasure of catching Mandy), then marveling at “the color” as his home is transformed into a surreal dreamscape a la Annihilation’s “shimmer.” “Everything’s going to be a-okay,” Nathan maintains at trailer’s end, but we’d be fools to believe him.
Color Out of Space
premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2019 in September, chalking up an 84% Rotten Tomatoes score on the strength of its early screenings. The film is Stanley’s first feature directorial effort in over two decades, since the near-mythic disaster of 1996’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, which he was fired from, yet subsequently appeared in as an extra, unbeknownst to its new director—the whole crazy story was documented in 2014’s Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau.
Color Out of Space crash-lands in theaters on Jan. 24, 2020.
See the Color Out of Space trailer and a few stills from the film below.