Monday With Mildred: “The Color Out of Space”

Enjoy this Monday With Mildred!

The Color Out of Space movie poster 2019.

The Color Out of Space

It’s easy to have a love/hate relationship with Lovecraft, who was a racist misogynist of the worst order, and also told really fascinating stories that have the potential to be turned into pretty good movies. That’s especially true now, when modern special effects are only held back by the imaginations of the filmmakers. No one has ever gotten a good handle on what Lovecraft’s monsters really looked like, though. If you don’t believe me, ask five of your geek friends to describe Cthulhu. I believe this is why The Color Out of Space has been made several times. Basically you only have to sprinkle oddly colored pansies all over the set and cover them with spooky music.

Between a concern for visualization and my apprehension over Nicolas Cage’s acting ability, I was expecting yet another dud. He plays the patriarch of a nuclear American family living the bucolic rustic life after abandoning the city, much to the kids’ chagrin. To cope with their new reality, the daughter tries her hand at casting “Move Us Back To The City” magic spells, and the boy smokes pot in the barn. Neither one works and things are tense, especially because mom and pop have the emotional empathy of a turnip. I considered that a major homage to Lovecraft, since that fairly well describes him. Soon enough, a meteor crashes into their yard and things go to hell from there.

The prologue has some nifty shots of a newish forest in a penetrating fog with a sepulcher voice over of Lovecraft’s descriptive, “deep woods where no ax had ever cut” with standard “we’re going to SCARE you” music. I was disappointed they didn’t spend the money to film in an actual primordial forest. After that most of the film moves really slowly, even after the meteor arrives. To occupy my time I kept looking for other signs of the bisected triangle that decorates the daughter’s hair clasp, and the frame of the mom’s oddly shaped attic window.  I don’t know the significance of the triangle, and I didn’t look it up, even though that might have livened up the first three quarters of the film. I also had time to notice everyone has green eyes, which is statistically challenging.

My qualms about Nic Cage’s acting was mostly for naught. He is still mostly stone faced, but not to his usual degree. Crazy Nick was pretty good. Joely Richardson was too believable as an overbearing mom, and I really liked both of the kids. I assume the filmmakers were thumbing their noses at Lovecraft by not only casting persons of color in major supporting roles, but making one of them a possible romantic interest of the older daughter. It made me smile.

The Color Out of Space is a solidly made movie that looks nice, with decent special effects. They didn’t give the encroaching foliage an odd or outlandish color, but they did heighten the effect of the color to make it easily noticeable that the color was taking over without being obvious about it. If you don’t mind suffering through a lot of slow film the last bit was a lot of fun, which left me with a more favorable impression of the movie than I had first thought I would have.

LINKS: 

COLOR OUT OF SPACE Official Trailer

CFR: In Addition: I LIKE it when PoC are cast in Lovecraft stories! I like actively eliminating racism.

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