When the whole movie goes full Cage!
Back in my review of Mandy, (2018) I complained that I didn’t get the ultimate Nick Cage experience I was promised. I was told it would be full force, category 5, Nicolas Cage. I was expecting Cage to deliver the ham of godly proportions. The reason this was so important to me, is that it was litmus test for this movie, Color Out of Space (2019).
Now, I’ve been extremely harsh of Cage’s horror movie career, none more harsh than Pay The Ghost, when I flat out asked Cage to leave horror and never return. My opinion didn’t change with Mom and Dad (2017) when Cage gave a sixty second expose on ‘Going Full Cage’ which should have happened throughout the body of Mandy. The point is, Cage’s ultimate ham is almost never appropriate for any of the horror movies he’s in.
But H. P. Lovecraft, while starting off subtle, eventually requires absolute lunacy, and FOR FUCKING ONCE, Cage might be prefect for it. Cage proved he could do subtlety in 8mm, and if directed appropriately would only go nutz when the story called for it. However, Mandy was an excellent test of Cage’s capacity for Lovecraftian horror and he flat out blew it. He was perfectly subtle in the beginning, but when he needed to go ‘Full Cage’ he didn’t. We never got the ‘Not the bees’ moment, Mandy was so deserving of.
Now having seen Color Out of Space, I can firmly say, Panos Cosmatos was the problem with Mandy, not Cage. Color Out of Space proved Cage can be directed for Cosmic Horror, even if it currently stands as an outlier. He starts with subtle, gets weird, then goes ‘Full Cage.’ Hell, he even dialed it back when he needed to and after he’d already gone full gonzo.
So, why is this review more about Cage’s acting then the movie? Because Cage has NEVER gotten horror. Hell, you can even be hammy in horror and still make a good movie, but he always managed to fuck it up some how. It’s like he didn’t know WHEN to be hammy even when it would be appropriate.
I should say though, Color Out of Space wasn’t good just because Cage didn’t fuck it up. It was good because it delivered on everything it needed to, then THE WHOLE FUCKING MOVIE WENT ‘FULL CAGE!’
I can’t really get into it without going into the spoilers, but director Richard Stanley took the source material, did it justice, then added onto it in ways that were both amazing and appropriate. The FX were also solid, the atmosphere down right encapsulating, and the rest of the cast were on point as well.
Significantly, they didn’t fuck up the most important and easiest thing to screw up about The Colour Out Of Space by H. P. Lovecraft. That’s by trying to emulate the narrative of the source material like The Color Out Of Space (2010). It was written like a second hand, third person account. That just doesn’t work for the movies. The only thing about source material that translates well, is the shit that happen to the Gardners. Outside of that, it would be quite boring. Not only did this rendition focus on the Gardners, it amped what happened to them up to 11.
This isn’t exactly gonna be high on my ‘all time list,’ but it will be on there, somewhere. It’s also currently my favorite rendition of the source material. I don’t think it’s a ‘must watch’ unless you’re a Lovecraft fan, but I do recommend this for Horror Heads and Riffers alike.
Let me explain why…
There are some things about the original The Colour Out Of Space that hinted at body horror, but it was very subtle. The effect the color had on the Gardner was corrupting, but it was more like possession and rot, than… I don’t know, FULL BORE THE THING (1982), TWISTED ABOMINATION, BODY HORROR. Holy fuck that was unexpected and awesome!
In the sources material, what the color dose is never completely obvious. Everything is always ‘sort of off,’ or ‘not quite natural,’ giving rise to the term ‘Lovecraft Lazy.’ The trees appeared to move at night and almost seemed to glow. What they didn’t do is go full Evil Dead and eat people, like in this movie. A lot of the movie was like that. In the book, Theresa Gardner does get locked in the attic after getting effected, but they never really tell you what happens to her or the youngest. In this one, she gets fused with him, and a little bit of dog, and a little bit of an Alpaca. It’s pretty fucking brutal. It really is a lot like The Thing (1982).
What the color is, and how it acts is even fundamentally different in a good way. In the book, it’s clearly an invading force that is here on earth for a light snack before moving on to another planet. It starts out by growing things and bringing life to the Gardners’ farm. But it only provides life to grow it and cultivate it so it can eat it. In the source material, we’re just food it’s essentially farming. In the movie, everything the color does is more like an experiment. As Tommy Chong’s character Ezra explains, it wants to make things like it. It doesn’t quite understand us, so it starts messing with us to try and change us. It wants to assimilate us, not eat.
There’s even enough to suggest Lavinia accidentally invited it. At the end of a ritual intended to heal her mother (that she pulls from a copy of, no shit, The Necronomicon) she adds that she just wants out. The color then appears and… well… it helps her get out. There’s more to suggest this is the case, but its all pretty subtle, like how it affects the other characters versus how it affects Lavinia, and how the runes she carves all over her body seem to be directed by the color. It’s almost like Lavinia was the real target, and the earlier attempts are just practice.
What’s important about this is how the source material was interpreted and adapted to make it interesting and downright fucking brutal. It really is perfect. I am so surprisingly impressed and satisfied with the end product. I highly recommend it.
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