Even when Nicolas Cage is supposed to be playing a normal, everyday guy, there's always a creeping sense of menace right beneath the surface of even his most benign performances. In the new sci-fi freakout Color Out of Space, Cage is supposed to be a dorky dad living with his eccentric family on a quaint farm, and yet right from the beginning there's something... off about him.
Our sense of equilibrium is wonky from the start, and considering this film is inspired by an H.P. Lovecraft story, we know we're heading into strange territory.
In the film, Cage and his family live on a rustic, picturesque farm, miles away from civilization. When a meteorite crashes onto their land, the small crater exudes a neon pink glow, and it seems to scramble cell signals and contaminate the water supply. Pretty soon there's something growing and pulsating at the bottom of the well, there's a weird smell in the air, and everyone starts behaving even more strangely than before.
Color Out of Space is something of a comeback for director Richard Stanley, who hasn't made a narrative feature in more than 20 years, and he embraces the full-on Lovecraftian madness this story requires. It probably takes a bit too long to get going, but the second half transmogrifies into a gloopy splatter film dripping with slime, geysers of blood, horribly disfigured prosthetics and entities from other planes of existence that look like they're on loan from John Carpenter's The Thing.
It's also a showcase for the trademark histrionics of its lead actor: I never thought I'd see Nic Cage shoot a barn full of possessed alpacas while screaming at the top of his lungs, but now I have, and I can't unsee it. Yes, Color Out of Space turns out to be little more than a shrieking freak show, which makes its occasional swipes at transcendence seem a little silly. But if you want to get in on the ground floor of a future cult favorite, here's your chance.
Find it on Amazon and YouTube.