Movie Reviews

Color Out of Space: Lovecraft Water Horror

H.P. Lovecraft is a well-known author for his creature horror stories like The Call of Cthulhu, At the Mountain of Madness and The Dunwich Horror. The short story, The Color Out Of Space, from the late 1920s, was updated for film and took years to produce. It wasn’t the first time The Color Out Of Space was produced into a movie. This film would have been the sixth time it was the basis of a film plot. The film is beautiful yet creepy and very purple. It’s well-acted and has a very layered story of cosmic horror.

Color Out Of Space is about a family of five who moves out to the countryside in Massachusetts to raise alpacas on a small family farm. The husband is going through a midlife crisis with his very successful workaholic wife works in financial stock analysis in the attic. The three children are two teenagers and one small child. The teen boy helps out on the farm while the younger son too young to help out hangs out with his dog at the front. The teen daughter is a practicing Wiccan who reads Necronomicon books. This is a running theme in most H.P. Lovecraft stories and most movie adaptations. She is also very miserable on the farm and wants to move out as soon as possible. One night a meteor with bright ominously glowing purple light crashes down onto the farm in the front yard beside the well. The meteor gathered some attention from the media, scientists studying the water in the area and city officials who wanted the large 20 acre land for the massive water filtration system to be built for the city. After the crash, the family starts to act weird by being disoriented, delusional, time confused and physically sick at times. Their problems get worse as the story progresses while the meter infects them even more through the water, mutating the world around them even small animals.

Screenshot from Color Out Of Space (2019)

The metaphors in the story about the water being contaminated aren’t that uncommon especially about turn-of-the-century stories of small farms. Cholera was a water contamination disease that caused many deaths. There was a time that many cholera illnesses happened all the time. This story seems like the ramped-up nightmarish version of the disease infecting a small farm. The family’s water supply was from a well that was close to the meteor that contaminated the water. The purple light changes living things like people, animals and plants around it to something exotically purple or grotesque. Anything that consumes water to live will be affected. They transform into a bright purplish fuschia colour just like the purple light. The flowers and grass turned bright purple over time. And when an animal or person is affected by the purple light it flickers a purple light within the eyes and skin.

The acting is compelling to show the growing creepiest of the characters. They do bits of weirdness that blend people in a bad unknown situation with manic behaviour. Nicholas Cage played the father who moved his family to the countryside. In many ways, before the character started to lose grip on his emotions and rationals, he seemed like he was already stressed with the large uncertain change and pressures from other people. The character tries to keep everything together with everyone yelling at him at all ends with a calm demeanour. He does grow increasingly upset, angry and verbally violent the more the purple light glows. His wife is a workaholic who goes through literal transformations throughout the film. From a focus steady woman who constantly has split focus to a space goblin monster that crawls around with bits of purple light glowing from them with grey skin. Her sense of concentration drifts away and she ends up one of the most physical hurt because of the purple light. Also, there’s the oldest child their daughter who doesn’t have that many responsibilities have her younger brother on the farm because of her hatred of everything there. She hated being on the farm, living with her family and wanted to be seen as special with her witchcraft practice. Throughout the movie, she had the most negative energy and temperament. She was quick to anger and cried a lot but her family was picking on her with her behaviour, sense of dress and responsibilities. She was the black sheep of the family. The family seemed like they are always upset and angry at each other to some degree.

Screenshot from Color Out Of Space (2019)

This seems like a movie that special effects-heavy throughout each scene of the film. The movie has plausible effects when it’s a background feature like moving trees, the pile of alpacas, the room of the groundskeeper after the light affected him. They don’t look garish or too much like a video game animation. The atmosphere the light creates is also interesting. Through a grasshopper’s eyes, we see how things affected to see the world. It’s almost a purple solarised / bad monitor view. When the force is in the air, the fog changes colours. When the light was close to divulging the things around, the light changed the perception of light from pacing, RGB light lining up, odd shadows and bleaching white light. It’s freaky but cool and scary at the same time.

The direction is not based on jump scares but a build-up of atmospheric change and irrational behaviours. They are not acting normal but how much is it them or the situation. The build-up little by little worked for a film like this.

This is a film that most might find out about either through someone or late at night. The film story is timeless but the execution of the story differs from what most have a scene in horror. One clear complaint about this film would be the high amount of colour used that could be out of range on most television.


Trailer for Color Out Of Space (2019)

Genre: Horror/Science Fiction
Year: 2019
Duration: 111 minutes

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Four out of five stars

All screenshots are from the film

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