I didn’t go into Color Out of Space thinking it would be great, or even very good. Starring Nicolas Cage and based on a story by HP Lovecraft about a weird alien presence/virus/organism/wtf that comes crashing in from space via meteorite, I figured it’d be entertaining at the very least. And that it was, but it was also tremendously, spectacularly bad, with some classic bad-acting Cage on tap.
The set-up: The film's Gardner family has traded life in the city for a house in the country after they inherit a rural family estate located near Arkham, Massachusetts. They are very obviously city folk. Mom’s a commodities trader whose cancer is in remission, dad Cage is the patriarch who’s failed at his calling (he’s a painter who doesn’t seem to paint anymore and has turned to raising alpacas and gardening, where he’s also failing). The daughter is a Wicca-practicing witch who wears a cape, has purple streaks in her hair, and rides a horse earnestly, while her younger brothers are two-dimensional representations of younger brothers. The older is a smart-mouthed pothead (he gets his stash from the old hippie hermit who squats in a shack on their property, played by Tommy Chong), while the younger is barely a blip on a real-person radar, though he’s the first family member affected by the situation that arises after a meteorite crashes onto their front lawn.
Of course, shit gets weird from the get-go.
The thing in the yard has a strange purple glow before it cools, and then vanishes (or really, relocates). There’s a hydrologist / daughter love interest who seems to be the only one suspicious of the water being contaminated, and really, the only person who seems to give a fuck at all after the preliminary media buzz. It soon starts affecting the local flora (are the plants in the garden more bountiful or just plain bizarre?), fauna (which have disappeared or become skittish and/or vicious), and then, of course, the Gardner family, as matter seems to distort into a bizarre mutation of reality.
Is it an alien? A virus? An extraterrestrial organism? All of the above? The question is never answered, nor does it need to be. And really, the plot isn’t important, either. You’re not here for the plot. You’re here for campy-as-fuck sci-fi horror and Nicolas Cage, of which Color Out of Space has both in spades. It has the potential to be the next great (terrible) cult classic, and will definitely find a sympathetic audience in both die-hard Cage fans and D-level horror film enthusiasts. Also, the colors are pretty.
Color Out of Space opens in theaters January 22. At SIFF Cinema Egyptian, it's co-presented by SIFF and The Reef, with a pre-recorded Q&A with Nicolas Cage and director Richard Stanley, and must-see bonus footage included at the opening night screening. Doors open at 6 pm; free ice cream from Full Tilt to the first 100 people.