Color Out of Space (2019) is a sci-fi thriller starring Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, and Madeleine Arthur. Richard Stanley directed and wrote the screenplay with Scarlett Amaris (The Otherworld). The film had a limited theatrical showing in the US and releases to home media including Blu-ray, 4k Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital on Feb. 25, 2020.
The movie is based on the short story “The Colour Out of Space” (1927) by H.P. Lovecraft in which a meteorite crashes in the fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts. Falling to earth years before, the meteorite is linked to accelerating and deforming the growth of nearby vegetation and animals. It was adapted several times to film including “Die, Monster, Die!” (1965), “The Curse” (1987), and “Colour from the Dark” (2008) to name a few.
Richard Stanley’s adaptation of “The Colour Out of Space” varies in several ways. For one, the story brings the meteorite into the present day in which it crashes on the front yard of the Gardner farm about a third of the way into the film. And, not only does the outer space specimen alter growth but it also creates strange electromagnetic fields that interfere with phones, cars, and other electronics. Time also seems to be altered, or at least human’s perceptions of time, adding to the “cosmic terror” brought on by the alien form.
Here is a review of the 4k Blu-ray and Blu-ray editions of Color Out of Space distributed by Shout! Factory and in digital by Image Entertainment/RLJE Films.
The disc menu is nicely done with moving images from the film and a looping portion of the soundtrack from Colin Stetson. There are options for Play, Scene Selection, Set-Up and Bonus. In the Set-Up option, you can either choose English SDH ort Spanish subtitles. There are not many chapters in Color Out of Space with only a total of 7 scenes (excluding credits) accessible through the scene selector.
The Blu-ray disc and 4k Blu-ray offer several extras (this doesn’t always happen 4k BDs) including “Hot Pink Horror: The Making of Color Out of Space,” deleted scenes, and photo gallery of The Gardner’s Farm.
In the lengthy, 6-chapter making-of documentary, you get a look at some of the concept art for the film which lead to some of the VFX and set design in Color Out of Space. Part of the documentary covers how producers approached Richard Stanley about making Color Out of Space. If you’re not aware of Stanley, he hadn’t directed a feature film in about 20 years after being fired during the production of The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996).
Unfortunately, neither the Blu-ray or 4k Blu-ray 2-disc editions include a code to redeem a Digital Copy. This would have definitely been a bonus.
Color Out of Space is cringy at times, and one might find a little bit of influence from classics such as Poltergeist (1982), The Shining (1980), and B-movie films in the horror genre. Other, more recent horror films that have some similarities many include The Conjuring (2013) and The Messengers (2007) especially given both movies take place on around farmhouses.
The movie definitely has that Lovecraft feeling. There is a lot of confusion, ambiguity, and fragmented reality, as well as fascination with the extraterrestrial. It’s a tough film to watch given the agony the family, and especially the father, Richard Stanley, who seems to be fighting his own internal demons as well as the nightmare the meteorite brings.
Color Out of Space now sits among a list of many films based on H.P. Lovecraft’s writings such as Re-Animator (1985), Bleeders (1997), and The Unnamable (1988). One might wonder what Lovecraft, being one of the most significant authors of supernatural fiction, would have to say about the many cinematic interpretations of his works. The writer, who died penniless, certainly couldn’t have imagined a $6M film made 100 years after the publication of “The Colour Out of Space.”
The 4k Blu-ray edition of the movie lives up to its name, with color that renders more and more vibrant and luminous as the meteorite’s effects become stronger throughout the film. Images of the night sky are gorgeous, and hard to resist pausing the film to get a closer look at some of the scenes as still frames. One of the best shots is an exterior of the home with spotlights at every angle and mist rolling through the sky. There must have been a ton of work done in both set/lighting design and post to create so many fields of color in the frame.
If you’ve got your TV in anything but Film or Cinema mode the color will be off the charts in saturation. Maybe that’s your preference, but one of the effects Stanley and cinematographer Steve Annis must have been thinking about is the emergence of color as a character. This happens gradually and can be better experienced by keeping the colors true to their cinematic intent.
Given that color is a character of the film, it’s surprising the 4k edition doesn’t have an HDR layer to expand the dynamic range. But this film may not need it. There is enough vibrancy to show off any TV’s capabilities.
1080p vs 2160p
Compared to the Blu-ray Disc the 4k Blu-ray presentation is drastically sharper. The 2160p resolution shows more detail and depth throughout the film in both brightly lit and darker scenes where the focal range is limited. There are several closeups of amphibious creatures that jump off the screen in 4k, and frames that include text and graphics boast substantial legibility over 1080p.
The sound for Color Out of Space on Blu-ray and 4k Blu-ray is provided in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1. The soundtrack from Colin Stetson is eery and climatic, perfectly fitting for the imagery and pace of the film. The audio experience was not exactly immersive but provided a dynamic range of sound levels from the quite whispers coming from the property’s well to the loud sounds of lightning strikes and screams from the Gardner family.
Any fan of horror films and B-grade movies should get something out of Color Out of Space. It’s a memorable film, maybe not for the acting but for how Stanley introduces each unique character to the cosmic terrors brought on by the meteorite. And, Richard Stanley’s filmmaking artistry is clearly evident in every frame that oozes with details. The film may also be enjoyed by home theater enthusiasts. Given this considerably low-budget movie has such an impressive home media release it shouldn’t be a title that’s ignored.