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Color Out of Space
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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 ...
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?
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?
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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.