Color Out of Space review – Nicolas Cage goes cosmic in freaky sci-fi horror

A repulsive alien organism is unleashed on Earth in Richard Stanley’s scary, hokey – and often funny – extravaganza

In the bonkers 2018 thriller Mandy, Nicolas Cage gave one of his Cage-iest performances yet, face splattered in blood as he pursued a cult leader who’d tortured his girlfriend. If you thought that was trippy, wait till you see Color Out of Space, in which Cage’s mug is once again sprayed with blood ... alpaca blood.

Adapted from a story by HP Lovecraft, this is a freaky-deaky, retro-cosmic science-fiction horror about a meteor that slams into Earth unleashing an extraterrestrial organism. The whole thing looks as if it was dreamed up under the influence of a quality batch of LSD. I laughed out loud at the hokiest bits. But I’ve got to admit I was sucked in and genuinely scared, too.

The director is Richard Stanley, who hasn’t made a feature film since he got fired from The Island of Dr Moreau (1996). Cage plays Nathan Gardner, an artist who moves with his wife (Joely Richardson) and three kids back to the farm where he grew up, to raise alpacas. In a very Cage-y moment he turns dreamy-eyed while milking: “You’ve got to warm the boob.”

When a meteor lands in their front garden, the family witness flashes of a colour never before seen by the human eye (actually, purple). After the meteor comes the terror. Lush mutant flowers begin to grow in the garden; the dog won’t stop whimpering; everyone gets a bit shouty. Then things get gobsmackingly, gaggingly repulsive.

To be fair, Cage holds it in for the first hour, giving us his version of liberal, caring dad. When he does finally does let rip, he doesn’t go all-out ragey-Cagey, but does something creepier: rambling in a Trumpishly high-pitched, peevish voice. It’s a film with a fair few ludicrously funny bits, yet something endearing in how unashamedly earnestly it’s played straight, not for laughs.

Love it or loathe it, Stanley is trying to do something distinctively his own after all those years in the cold. His movie perhaps has the makings of a cult classic.

• Color Out of Space is released in the UK on 28 February.


Cath Clarke

The GuardianTramp

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