Color Out of Space

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Color Out of Space Movie Poster Image
Excellent, unsettling sci-fi horror based on Lovecraft tale.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 111 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No real messages here, given that bad things just randomly happen to people who are just trying to get by. It might leave viewers thinking about the concept of evil -- how it doesn't actually have to be seen or embodied to be out there.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are mostly victims. Some occasionally try to help family members out of peril, but their efforts largely come to nothing.


Graphic, horrifying images. Alpacas (and people) are mutated and fused together into shocking abominations. Characters die. Scenes of shooting monstrosities with a shotgun. Lots of scary/creepy stuff and scary sounds. A woman cuts off her fingers with a knife (blood shown). Teen cuts own flesh with box knife, dripping blood. A cracked-open egg contains blood. Strong tension and arguing. Cancer is mentioned.


Married couple talks about how they haven't had sex in months. They nuzzle and kiss on the front porch and also kiss passionately in bed and prepare to have sex but are interrupted. A teen girl briefly flirts with a young man. Some sex-related talk/humor.


Frequent language includes many uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "c--ksucker," "p---y," "t-ts," "bitch," "ass," "goddamn," "damn," "d--k," "boobs," and "stupid," plus uses of "oh my God," "Jesus," and "Christ" (as exclamations). A cat is named "G-spot."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A teen smokes pot regularly (off camera), and characters talk about it. ("Are you smoking dope?" "You're high," "Your stoned ass," etc.) Adult character regularly drinks fine bourbon and fetches a bottle of wine for dinner from the wine cellar. Vague allusions to him drinking too much or being drunk. An adult smokes pot on camera. Reference to how a person "took too much acid."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Color Out of Space is a sci-fi/horror movie based on a classic short story by H.P. Lovecraft. It's a clever adaptation, with fine use of visual effects and humor, but it also has some truly disturbing and unsettling images. Expect brief but startling use of guns and shooting, as well as plenty of blood, death, mutations/monstrosities, severed fingers, tension, arguing/shouting, and more. Language is strong and frequent, with many uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "p---y," "c--ksucker," and more. A married couple kisses and tries to have sex but are interrupted, and a teen girl flirts with a young man. There's also some sex-related talk/humor. A teen smokes pot (off camera), and characters talk about it. An adult smokes pot on camera, and another adult enjoys bourbon and wine; there's some talk about whether he drinks too much. There's also a reference to acid.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byShkveezer May 15, 2021

Really Gross and Disgusting

Really convincing makeup (GROSS) and effects. Sounds are pretty gross, too. Tell ya' the truth: I haven't finished watching till the end, it's th... Continue reading
Written byAnonymous July 18, 2020

Majestic magenta visuals, but poorly executed adaptation

This is a decent adaptation of the Lovecraftian horror short story.

Unfortunately the film is all over the place in mood, at times being terrifying, and at oth... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old July 5, 2020
this is a really disturbing and creepy movie lots of unsettling scenes but really good and amazing acting

What's the story?

In COLOR OUT OF SPACE, Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) and his family -- wife Theresa (Joely Richardson), daughter Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur), elder son Benny (Brendan Meyer), and youngest son Jack (Julian Hilliard) -- have given up life in the city to work Nathan's father's farm raising alpacas. Hydrologist Ward Phillips (Elliot Knight) comes by to study the water in the area, just before a glowing meteor crashes into the Gardners' front yard. Everything quickly starts to go haywire. Not only does Ward find that the water has been tainted, but Jack gets sick; large, inedible fruits and vegetables grow; the animals begin to mutate; and everyone starts acting very oddly as odd colors radiate everywhere.

Is it any good?

A clever, potent adaptation of a story by H.P. Lovecraft, this sci-fi shocker with a little humor and effective visual FX manages to capture the source material's unique, unnamable enigma. Writer-director Richard Stanley (of the 1990 cult classic Hardware) and co-writer Scarlett Amaris bring Lovecraft's 1927 story into the present day -- and also discard the story's flashback structure -- but keep the original tale's moods and ideas intact. The evil is never explained or seen in Color Out of Space, except in the form of ethereal patterns of poisonous, seeping colors and in the shocking mutations of living things. It's constantly intriguing -- and definitely unsettling.

Cage's performance isn't quite as consistent here as it was in the terrific 2018 horror film Mandy -- when he gets unhinged here, it's inadvertently funny -- but things balance out before the final act. Cage also provides some intentional humor (as when he watches himself being interviewed on TV about possible aliens), and Tommy Chong is terrific as a freaky old hermit. Q'orianka Kilcher co-stars as the mayor of the Gardners' town; it seems as if there might once have been more to her character, as her appearances in the finished film don't amount to much. But otherwise, the characters in Color Out of Space are vivid and dimensional, and their warm humanity lies in direct contrast to the horrors in the woods.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Color Out of Space's violence. How did it make you feel, given that the violent forces are acting almost randomly, with no malice? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Is the movie scary? What makes it scary? (What is it about things that are unseen and unknown?) What's the appeal of horror movies?

  • How are alcohol and drugs depicted? Are they glamorized? Are there consequences for using? Why does that matter?

  • What's the family dynamic like here? What's the relationship between the siblings? Between the parents and the children? What are the similarities and differences between these and your own relationships?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate