Arguably, no genre writer has been as influential as H.P. Lovecraft. Over eighty years after his death, his unique vision of ‘cosmic horror’ continues to inspire both authors and filmmakers. Yet, to date, there have few truly faithful Lovecraft adaptations.
SpectreVision’s The Color Out Of Space is the sixth film to take Lovecraft’s story of the same name as its inspiration—and it promises much. Could this new version finally be the film to capture Lovecraft’s cold, existential horror? Sadly, not quite.
Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) and his family’s retreat to rural life is quickly disrupted when a meteorite crashes in their front yard. The Gardners’ dream home becomes an hallucinatory prison, as an extraterrestrial organism contaminates the farmstead, infecting everything and everyone it can.
The film both looks spectacular and builds brilliantly, with a wonderfully scalp-itching, slow-burn in which the small and the everyday become tinged with ominous portents. The Lovecraft theme of telling not showing is used to good effect, as the family gradually bend to the influence of the alien organism infecting their land.
However, this has the feel of a film that has fallen victim to the demands of studio execs and audience feedback. Two-thirds in, and Lovecraft’s trademark nagging, unnerving, psychological horror is abandoned in favour of black humour and unrestrained Thing-esque SFX.
After such a classy opening, the switch to schlock horror is jarring. Maybe this was Director Richard Stanley’s intention, but there are times when the cast seem to be romping along in an entirely different movie. The result isn’t bad. It’s just not Lovecraft.
The Color Out of Space is magnificently odd and there’s no doubt that Lovecraft fans will want to see it. Many will love it. But it could have been so much more.