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Wednesday, October 28, 2020


Laser Floyd it ain't.

The formerly city-dwelling Gardner family moves to a remote country house after wife and mother Nancy (Joely Ricahrdson) undergoes a mastectomy, the idea being that the rustic tranquility of their alpaca farm will aid in her recovery. Along with Nancy are her husband Nathan (Nicholas Cage), stoner eldest son Benny (Brendan Meyer), Wiccan middle child Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur), and Jack (Julian Hilliard), the youngest. All is going well, what with Lavinia performing amateur rituals to keep her mom's cancer at bay, and Nathan tenderly proving to Nancy how much he loves her (she is at a loss for grasping how he could possibly still find her desirable), but their charmingly idyllic world is irrevocably thrown into chaos when a meteorite plummets from the stars and lands in their yard, accompanied by a spectacular and rather lysergic lightshow. This out-of-this-world rock possess a number of strange properties, such as causing the local flora and fauna to mutate into creatures that are definitely not of this world, allowing young Jack to communicate with unseen "friends," contaminating fruit and vegetable crops, and rendering the local water sources undrinkable. Matters only get weirder as more strange life forms manifest, tempers flare, and a semi-catatonic Nancy cuts off some of her fingers while chopping carrots. From there things go full-tilt cosmic as Nathan basically goes completely mad and the entity from within the meteorite shows up to wreak unfathomable havoc. Sometimes being 12 miles away from any hope of help is a stone-cold bitch.

The latest mining of the vast lode that is H.P. Lovecraft and his concepts, COLOR OUT OF SPACE is one of the most evocative screen adaptations of the author's catalog, deftly managing to visualize his signature cosmic and unknowable sense of crawling dread and man's utter insignificance when stacked against powerful beings from beyond. The cast is solid, with Nicholas Cage stealing the show with a slow-burn full-tilt gonzo decent into madness (or what he simply calls Tuesday), and a fun turn by Tommy Chong as Ezra, the friendly hippie squatter who resides on the Gardners' property and who is the first to truly twig to what is transpiring.

I won't go into the surprises that film has in store, but I will state that the film's leisurely pace allows us to get to know all of the characters and actually care about them before the shit goes south. They are all likeable people and none of them deserve what turns up in their front yard. All I'll say is that the third act owes a large and disturbing debt to John Carpenter's THE THING (1982), and that COLOR OUT OF SPACE is absolutely worth your time. Very much RECOMMENDED.

Poster from the theatrical release. A very accurate depiction of just some of the film's events.

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