Review: Cuckoo 'Color Out of Space' lets Cage be Cage

H.P. Lovecraft adaptation allows eccentric actor to let loose, and he takes advantage of every opportunity

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

The bizarre cult of Nicolas Cage will find plenty to salivate over in "Color Out of Space," a boffo sci-fi horror freak-out that fits squarely into Cage's current M.O.

Since the '80s, Cage has carved out a niche for himself by turning in irregular performances in otherwise straight films, and he earned himself an Oscar for his transcendent performance as a suicidal drunk in 1995's "Leaving Las Vegas." 

Joely Richardson and Nicolas Cage in "Color Out of Space."

A run of Hollywood hits followed, and then a run of miscues, and he's been pinballing around in mostly forgettable, low-budget fare for the last decade or so. He used to bring the weird to movies, but starting with the surreal psychedelic trip "Mandy" in 2018, the movies started bringing the weird to him, and he's in the midst of a career reinvention as an untethered cosmic force, the sole inhabitant of Planet Cage.

"Color Out of Space" is a spiritual sequel of sorts to "Mandy." It's the type of movie where Tommy Chong as a pot-smoking squatter named Ezra is only about the seventh weirdest element in the film, which is what happens when there's a scene of Nic Cage slam dunking tomatoes into his kitchen trash bin.

Cage plays Nathan Gardner, an alpaca farmer (!) whose Massachusetts farm is hit by a meteorite from space. Then all sorts of weird stuff starts to happen, not the least of which involves Cage's line readings — "now if you don't mind, it's time to milk the alpacas," he says with semi-serious delivery — or the fit he throws when his car won't start.

"Color Out of Space" is based on H.P. Lovecraft's 1927 short story and is directed by Richard Stanley, the director who was famously fired from the 1996 adaptation of "The Island of Dr. Moreau." Stanley steers "Color Out of Space" into memorably oddball territory, and the gross-out creature effects keep it from being simply a one man show for Cage. Now if you don't mind, it's time to milk the alpacas. 

'Color Out of Space'


Not rated: Language, drug use, sci-fi horror and gore

Running time: 110 minutes