Colour Out of Space (2019)

Horror might be a diverse genre, but I’d argue that most horror films leverage a familiar subset of human fears. Whether its social anxiety, bumps in the night or simple, unadulterated violence, the best horror films find their scares in interpolations of the things we’re already afraid of.

Colour Out of Space, an adaptation of a H.P. Lovecraft short story from 1927 by reemergent director Richard Stanley, is different. Though possessing recognisable signifiers of a mid-budget genre flick – an isolated farmhouse, an ornery mayor, Nicolas Cage in full bugfuck crazy mode – Stanley’s film eschews familiar threats for something indefinable. Rather than exploiting and recreating everyday fears, Colour exploits the fear of our own reality – or our perception of it – breaking down into something unrecognisable.

It’s a smart choice, leveraging what works about Lovecraft’s works without needing tentacles (or, uh, all the racism). It’s a different approach too; though Stanley isn’t a craftsman of the likes of Lynch or Flanagan, the way his vibrant, neon-adjacent colour scheme consumes the verdant surrounds (literally, with bright purple flowers coming to dominate the woods) isn’t something I’ve seen before. He’s not averse to trashier genre thrills either, as you might expect from Cage’s presence.

3.5 stars

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