Color Out of Space, Cage Out of Mind

Produced by Elijah Wood and directed by a long-gone director of yore in Richard Stanley, the original mind behind the ill-fated re-imagining of The Island of Dr. Moreau, Color Out of Space is by turns cool and kitschy, unnerving and silly, and always a good excuse for Nicholas Cage to turn up the weird and go for broke in a peculiar way that only he can pull off. As Cage’s wife, Joely Richardson is a workaholic mother in remission after a mastectomy, and who worries her husband won’t look at her the same way anymore. And as Benny and Livinia, little-known actors Brendan Meyer and Madeleine Arthur surprise, bringing humor and pathos to the roles of their elder kids. Benny is a pot-smoking slacker, Livinia a troubled daughter who’s taken up Wicca in hopes of protecting her formerly ailing mother. Together they’re a family torn apart by a strange meteorite that crash-lands in their front yard in the “sticks,” a town called Arkham with a sheriff, a mayor (Q’orianka Kilcher), and a nearby squire, played by none other than a high-as-a-kite Tommy Chong. This meteorite causes all sorts of metaphysical havoc on the family and their property, consuming nature, spreading a wild magenta color in its wake, and changing the psychological and biological makeup of every living thing in close proximity. Stanley’s B-movie sensibilities occasionally get the better of him, with amateurish fade transitions and poor visual effects in the film’s final stretch. Still, he’s proven here he shouldn’t have been banished to director purgatory and has allowed Cage to produce one of his best performances in years, a live-wire box of tics and truly bizarre choices that make Color Out of Space a worthwhile rental for fans of science fiction and horror. The film takes itself far too seriously to become a new cult classic, but not everything can be Mandy or The Room, can it?

Grade: B-

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