Nicolas Cage is slated to play the male lead in a movie adaptation of “The Color out of Space” by H. P. Lovecraft. So, are we going to get a deep and thoughtful rendition of an incredibly complex story line? Or are we going to get the usual “Not the bees” hammed up acting that Nicholas Cage is well known for?
I hit the threads to ask fellow horror heads in Frightland what they thought and it broke down pretty simply.
It should be noted that the sample is about half what I consider acceptable (no less than 300 reporting) and my targeted sample group are horror fanatics who have specific biases. However, those are the biases are what I’m after. First, the hard numbers.
When asked if they thought Nicholas Cage was an appropriate fit, those surveyed had this to say.
Stats: Sample size 144
Nicholas Cage is a fine actor and will do a great job 62 43%
Nicholas Cage’s over the top acting will fit the genre 41 28%
Nicholas Cage is not fit for this movie 20 14%
No Opinion 21 15%
Though just barely, I am immediately hit by the fact that individuals who didn’t care one way or the other, outnumber individuals who believe Cage is going to bomb. Even if just by one. There are two primary camps for support. Those who believe Cage is actually a good actor and can handle it. Not sure how familiar these people are with his filmography but it’s their opinion. The second camp believe that Cage’s usual over the top method acting is actually perfect for Lovecraftian setting. This may be a good point. Lovecraft delves deeply into madness and if anyone does a ‘frothing at the mouth raving lunatic’ right, it’s Cage.
For those who believe Cage is a decent actor, it is true his filmography is filled with smashing performances. Matchstick Man, Raising Arizona, and 8mm. Even films like The Rock, as campy as it was, Cage did a fine job. He’s clearly capable of amazing acting… but then we start to look at his track record in horror and it seems like his quality level takes a nosedive. In several of my reviews, I’ve told him to please leave horror and never come back.
We don’t have to just use examples like “Not the bees” from The Wicker Man. He hasn’t exactly had a great track-record with horror at all. The worst being Vampire’s Kiss which was so over the top, it has since become a series of memes that have launched his campy ridiculousness into legendary status. Cage went so over the top in Vampire’s Kiss we got full blown ‘So Bad It’s Good’ with levels not seen since Troll 2.
In my review of Pay the Ghost, I was surprised to be hit by a lukewarm performance as opposed to the hammy over acting.
But with 8mm under his belt, Cage clearly shows he’s capable of the edgy subtlety necessary for Lovecraftian stories. And that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for one of Cages full blown over the top zany moments. We all remember Bruce Campbell’s scene from Evil Dead 2 when confronted by laughing furniture, or when actor Sam Neill completely cracks at the end of, In the Mouth of Madness. Most recently, fans of the good ol’ fashioned Cage freak out point to Mandy, where his over the top acting filled the role almost too perfectly. It was like a natural fit.
Current director Richard Stanley, maybe keenly aware of Cages ability to deliver both and if he has the capacity to wrangle in the great ego that is Cage, it could work out perfectly. While there is something about horror that Cage never really seems to get a handle on, using 8mm again as an example, if The Color out of Space is presented more as an ‘investigative thriller,’ maybe he won’t ham it up until eventually given clearance from the director to, so to speak, ‘go full Cage.’
Looking at the director’s filmography, nothing stands out as a particular gem and the list is depressingly short over a very long time period. I wonder if this director has the clout to reign in an ego like Cage and rangle up appropriate acting.
In the end, there is a slight glimmer of hope that Cage can pull off Lovecraft. It’s likely just a matter of presenting it to the actor in the correct way. If it can be done, The Color out of Space may deliver the final adaptation for the story to be taken seriously in cinema. However, I’m not holding my breath. We literally only have 8mm to point to as the right style for Cage, that and a director I strongly doubt has the level of clout needed to direct Cage.