Let’s flip out.
The Color Out of Space is the most recent attempt at adapting H.P. Lovecraft into a film. I should give a disclaimer here: I give adaptations a lot of leeway. For me, the art of adaptation gives the creator a lot of freedom. I know this differs from the norm of “the book is always better.” Sometimes the book isn’t better.
With that being said, this adaptation does make some choices that I thought were odd. We do have the general story of a family that is tormented by a strange rock that fell from space, and the color around the rock seems to influence everything around it. The premise is simple, but at the time Lovecraft wrote it, he was one of the most unique authors out there. The cosmic horror he created is excellent, and in some ways this film does a fantastic job capturing these ideas.
My biggest gripes with the movie come in the first twenty minutes. First, I am not sure the contemporary setting adding anything to the idea. We get some plot points with cell phones and vehicles, but overall, it just seems like the ideas were transplanted temporally. Luckily, the ideas behind Lovecraft aren’t moored by decade or century, but rather exist somehow out of time. Lovecraft is one of the few authors who could be adapted to a future or past setting, but that doesn’t mean that creators should move the time.
The family led by Nicolas Cage (an interesting choice) slowly goes mad as the influence of the color changes everything around them. The problem here is that the family doesn’t seem happy when we first meet them (before the color arrives), so the transition to more insanity doesn’t vibe as well. This is unfortunate, and I will never understand why writers think that having a group of people be unhappy with each other is a good way to introduce them. We have so much stuff to contextualize that understanding the tension wastes time. Further, the insanity could have been more dynamic and shocking if the family didn’t seem ready to fall apart before there was any outside influence.
The visuals are great, and we get some amazing Cage insanity dealing with alpacas, and if that doesn’t get you interesting in the film, nothing will.
It is an interesting horror film that works as a Lovecraft adaptation—not a retelling. Perhaps it is the medium shift or the time shift, but the feel of the original story isn’t quite captured. However, what they do manage to capture is quite nice. I liked the movie despite it not being an exact copy of the original. As noted above, adaptations should be allowed a bit more leeway in my opinion. I would rather be surprised when watching something then know everything that is coming.
Apparently, this film is the first of three planned modern Lovecraft films. I’m looking forward to them and give this one an enthusiastic thumbs up.
Come for the Lovecraft. Stay for the Cage Rage.