We all know that H.P. Lovecraft stories can be hard to translate to the big screen, but when I heard Richard Stanley was making his cinematic return with ‘Color Out of Space’ I was pretty damn excited to say the least. Stanley may not have the longest resume when it come to feature film but what he has done is pretty damn amazing. Both Hardware (1990) & DustDevil (1992) are lesser known horror gems & with ‘Color Out of Space’ it’s a complete and total return to form. Stanley also brings Nicolas Cage along for the ride, which after his fan fave performance in ‘Mandy’ has kinda given Cage his second coming as an even more beloved cinematic presence. Much like ‘Mandy’ there’s plenty of bizarre psychedelic imagery here to go around and a ton of visceral horror sequences that I guarantee will shock you.
Stanley seems to love a slow burn horror story and brings that approach once again, leaving us all with a twisted but beautiful spectacle to behold by the film’s final act. The story here is simple, one quiet evening an eerie glowing meteorite lands in the front yard of Nathan Gardner and his family’s Alpaca farm. They soon find themselves baffled by it’s effect on the plants & wildlife on property as well as their own suddenly strange behaviors. Soon it’s clear, a mutant extraterrestrial organism that infects their minds and bodies is roaming the woods at night & transforms their quiet rural life into the ultimate technicolor nightmare. Continue reading
Most of the big cinema Hollywood horror movies churned out these days are pretty damn forgettable but every so often we get a shiny gem thrown in our direction, this is most certainly the case with “A Quiet Place”. Yep, this one delivers on all levels, it’s an awesome tale of survival, a freaky creature feature and a totally tense original thriller all wrapped into one sweet package. John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe & Millicent Simmonds are a family trying to survive in total isolation in a house in countryside. In the surrounding forest the wrath of big blind alien creatures that hunt by sound look for their next meal. Get ready for the extremes between complete silence and jarring monster attacks to jolt you right the fuck out of your theater seat. Most of the movie is completely serene except for some of the score that creeps in and out from time to time and that’s what will keep you on your toes. I’d love to see a version of the movie that takes out the score completely as that’d certainly add even more tension to the sonic experiment at play here.
It’s really quite a great concept for a big cinema flick and if you’re chomping on popcorn and candy during the movie you’re likely to be heard by all around, the movie’s so quiet at times it can be a bit unsettling in a large theater full of people. This of course brings the audience directly into the tension and it’s done quite well cuz when the shit hits the fan from time to time it makes the tense action sequences that much more powerful. It also features the most awkward sequence of being stalked by a monster, one where Emily Blunt tries to escape being killed by one of these creatures while simultaneously going into labor! Damn-could it get an worse-yes it surely does..
The small cast also adds to the feeling of dread and isolation as danger lurks behind every noise presented on screen. The setting as well is lush and beautiful as most of it takes place on and around the old farm and a creepy ass cornfield, the perfect place for monsters to creep all about. Speaking of the monsters, we don’t really get any solid explanation about where they came from or why they’re here, maybe upon a second viewing it’d be easier to piece it all together from various newspaper clippings that are shown here and there. It’s been said this movie was also, in it’s early stages given the possibility to have a connection to Cloverfield, which also would have worked quite nicely. Continue reading
I’ve noticed a bit of a trend lately in Hollywood that gives me some hope for the future of sci-fi movies, a slight return to intelligent and engaging genre stories have been slowly materializing on the big screen again. Recent movies like Arrival, Get Out and especially Blade Runner: 2049 have seriously made going to the movies a bit of a different experience in the best way possible. A return to cerebral science fiction mysteries is something I’ve been hoping for for quite some time and the trend continues on with the latest, ‘Annihilation’ in a big way.
Annihilation is quite a mind bender indeed that explores a bizarre alien atmosphere that suddenly yet quietly appears down in the Florida Everglades near a lighthouse on the coast. Referred to in the movie as ‘the shimmer’, this truly strange, rapidly growing area creates a surreal glistening layer to the landscape it encompasses. It’s up to a team of scientists/mercenaries to enter inside it to figure out just what the hell is going on and what happened to the previous team that never returned. A great cast heads this one as well, led by Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh (it’s nice to see her back!), Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny and also Oscar “Poe Dameron” Isaac in a chilling supporting role.
I liked the dynamic of having a fully female team of researchers that enter within the shimmer, as once inside, the movie quickly becomes a full on dream like journey into a beautifully bizarre landscape where it’s uncertain exactly what lies ahead. One of the best things about it is indeed the atmosphere and setting of the Everglades as the shimmer has transformed much of it into an eerie colorful creepy spectacle to behold. It really does feel like you’ve entered into an onscreen fever dream that’s peacefully quiet but at the same time incredibly unsettling.
Of course there’s plenty of danger inside and it doesn’t take too long before shit gets crazy, as quiet and introspective as this movie at first seems it also has some pretty intense scenes that cross fully over into the horror genre. It’s horror elements reminding me a bit at times of ‘Event Horizon’ & ‘The Thing’, there’s plenty to behold inside the shimmer. some unexpected gore and even some genuinely frightening monsters enter the equation. In fact there’s one unforgettably frightening creature that pretty much steals the show and is something born of nightmares. So yeah that’s always a plus for me.
Annihilation leaves a lot of room for discussion once the credits begin to role as it’s finale is so strange it’s likely to leave many leaving the theater scratching their heads. That though I feel is the appeal of a movie like this, it’s got a real story to tell that requires you to pay close attention to detail something a lot of science fiction movies used to do way back when. It seems however that the masses today have a hard time digesting movies like this, most everything today is edited so quickly and largely requires our brains to be turned off almost entirely. Movies these days largely feel as if they’re made for our mega short attention span culture so it certainly feels quite special to enter the theater and be pleasantly surprised by a totally different experience all together. Annihilation like Blade Runner:2049 likely won’t do great at the box office, but if you long for those classic stories of cerebral science fiction they way that I often do, you definitely won’t be disappointed with Annihilation.