I won’t give too much away but allow me to preface this with: it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Before I saw Color Out of Space I considered two of the best cosmic horror films to be The Thing (1982) and Annihilation. This film certainly draws from influences of both, and while Annihilation borrowed the basic plot point from Color, what Color borrows from it is the general visual style of the Color and associated psychedelia. From the Thing, there’s a good deal of body horror and a scene involving some animals that has to be a straight homage to the dog scene.
To some, I can see the film being territory that’s already been tread and to some it will seem like those other films did it better. To me, I’d like to contest the use of “better”. Let me be clear, this film is full of 80s style filmmaking and insane Nicolas Cage outbursts, so if that’s not your thing, the movie isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a strangely meditative and philosophical trek into the heart of darkness like Annihilation, this movie isn’t for you.
Who this movie is for, is for people who are willing to try a new lens on for cosmic horror and allow themselves to bask in the suspension of disbelief. Every time the film seemed to “jump the shark”, I was more than able to pull myself right back in and think to myself, “what would I be thinking if I were there?” and somehow, the horror seemed to grip me even more. This movie is made by someone who clearly loves Lovecraft and is a massive fan. It’s a modern day adaptation that doesn’t trudge around in the “oh look, we have analogues for every piece of lore!” The film knows what it is: an adaptation of The Color Out of Space and it goes for it. I can’t think of a better way to do it. Everything about it feels strange and heightened, to the point where it feels like you’re being pulled into a madness that began long before the titles began.
The dread feels akin in some ways to Mulholland Drive, where we know there could be some underlying forces at work twisting the world into some tortured conspiracy but we never see them, and cue the Lynchian surrealism. Here, the dread comes from an ever looming sense that everything is getting away from the characters, that their reality is escaping them and they have no way of coming back to a sane frame of mind as it starts to slip and accelerate beyond control.
While some will call it B-movie schlock, I think that may be part of the fun. Cosmic horror is deeply moving for chilling and humbling reasons, but I think with where the audiences are at currently, they won’t think much of the empty infinities between stars. All they’ll see is black, whereas we might see nameless horrors. I don’t mean this in a holier-than-thou attitude, but we have to admit that cosmic horror is a relatively new subgenre to break into the mainstream film market, and that the force of that horror hasn’t been yet identified by the mainstream.
All in all, I loved Color Out of Space and I’m excited for what Stanley has next for us. I’d love to hear what you all think.
submitted by /u/bretttaylorfilms