Color Out of Space

There are two types of adaptations.  Well, three if you count "bad".  But just dealing with the good ones, there's two types.  There's the ones that are extremely faithful and are basically the source on the screen.  For instance, the HPL Society's version of The Call of Cthulhu is not only extremely faithful to the source material, but is even faithful to the time period, as it was filmed as a black and white silent movie.

And then there's Richard Stanley's Color Out of Space, which is the second type.  It's faithful to the core of the story while changing things as needed, either to improve for the new medium or to flesh out the story.  The original story certainly didn't have The Thing-style body horror, for instance.  However, it fits in the story.

So, for those unfamiliar, The Colour Out of Space was a short story written by HP Lovecraft about a secluded farmer and his family.  A meteor crashes into the farm and Weird Stuff starts happening.  Crops grow massive while being rotten inside, people get sick, people die, etc.  And then, as inexplicably as it arrives, it goes back into space.  It was described as a color that couldn't be quantified, a color nobody had ever seen before.  It was, very clearly, an allegory for radiation.

Color Out of Space hits all the major beats of the story while updating it for modern times and changing things as needed to be a film.  The film itself is gorgeous, keeping the indescribable beauty of the Color and the changes to the landscape.  While it obviously couldn't actually show colors that aren't real, the mixes of pinks and blues and purples keep the otherworldly feel of the entity.

This adaptation also delves into the madness caused by the Color.  It seems to take the failings of the family members and augments them, from the mother's attachment to her youngest son to the father's anger issues.  It doesn't have too long, though, as the movie steams ahead into the body horror and the climax of the film.  But it's still pervasive throughout.

Of course, no review of this film is complete without a discussion of Nicolas Cage.  Cage has become something of a meme with his over the top acting in some films (see: Wicker Man remake).  Here, he turns in a fantastic performance, whipsawing back and forth between Crazy Nic Cage and Dramatic Nic Cage.  It's almost like flipping a lightswitch at times.  So while many people were cheering him being crazy and over the top, I thought it was very good.  He's not just an unhinged lunatic, he's a man trying desperately to do the right thing while losing his mind and having his body falling apart.

The rest of the cast works quite well, too.  I quite enjoyed the film, and not just because I'm a huge nerd for Lovecraft. Earlier, I mentioned the movie uses body horror for some of its scares and the creepy factor.  While that's true, it's less horrifying than the term "body horror" usually implies.  Yes, there's separate beings being melded together in kinda gross ways, but it's still not as gut-churning as, say, The Thing.  It's not goopy or slimey, for one.  Which seems a minor thing, but certainly makes a difference.

In conclusion, I think this is an extremely good adaptation, and it's great to see Richard Stanley charging back with a really solid film.  And even those who really don't like gore or grossness can enjoy it.

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