With a loopy Nicolas Cage, a herd of alpacas and a half-baked woodland hippie, you might think this is some sort of comedy. You couldn't be further from the truth; Color Out of Space, the latest of many adaptions of H.P. Lovecraft's literary work, is a story of cosmic horror that picks at the raw nerve of our deepest existential fears.

Lovecraft was way ahead of his time, his stories inspiring a wave of celluloid horror many years after they were written. Unfortunately, few are any good. Alex Garland's recent masterpiece Annihilation is a notable exception (actually adapted from Jeff VanderMeer's book, but with remarkable similarities that capture the cosmic horror Lovecraft was aiming for), but most trip and fall into a mad scientist's vat of cheap B-grade excess.

Is this any different? Well ... kinda. It is relatively faithful to the source material, narratively speaking. But that's not saying much as it has a very simple plot: when a strange meteor falls into the Gardner family's front yard it contaminates the water supply, turning the flora and fauna into a wondrously indescribable hue.

Things begin to get pretty trippy for the Gardner family and before long Dad (Nicolas Cage) is soaked in alpaca blood and rocking that wild-eyed look we've seen from him just a few times before. Even Tommy Chong (of dope-smoking duo Cheech and Chong fame) turns up. Again, no, this isn't a comedy.

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There are some exceptionally thrilling moments within Color's psychedelia, and director Richard Stanley (back at work after a long hiatus) has wrangled a tsunami of sight and sound into some experiential and mind-blowing sequences. Beyond that, unfortunately, the film rather predictably surrenders to the genre-revelling schlock of its cinematic forebears and never fully captures Lovecraft's vision.

Color just can't seem to decide what kind of movie it wants to be; high-end sci-fi or B-grade ham. It's the lovechild of Alex Garland and Ed Wood and a very frustrating experience to boot. I loved it, and I hated it.

Director:
Richard Stanley
Cast:
Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur
Running time:
111 mins
Rating:
R16, Violence, offensive language and horror
3 stars
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Verdict:
A trippy tale of cosmic horror that occasionally rises above its B-horror roots.