The Day the Earth Got Weird


Starring Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson and Madeleine Arthur Directed by Richard Stanley

Written by Richard Stanley and Scarlett Amaris VVS Films

The question “is H.P. Lovecraft unfilmable?” gets more repetitive – and ridiculous – with each subsequent film. And while it’s true that Lovecraft’s cosmic horrors are supposed to be indescribable, di- rector Richard Stanley (Hardware, Dust Devil) does perhaps the best job yet of not only visualizing those horrors, but getting to the core of Lovecraft’s work – specif- ically the idea that there’s some- thing truly dreadful lurking just beyond our ability to perceive it. Stanley and co-writer Scar- lett Amaris (The Theatre Bizarre) modernize but mostly stick to

Lovecraft’s plot. Nicolas Cage plays Nathan Gardner, a would-be artist who packs his family off to “the sticks.” There are tensions – Nathan’s wife Theresa (Event Horizon’s Joely Richardson) has become the family’s breadwinner while Na- than raises alpacas, and teenage daughter La-


vinia (Madeleine Arthur) wants to return to civi- lization – but those problems are overshadowed by the meteorite that crashes into their front yard one night.

The glowing rock imparts an otherworldly colour to the Gardner farm, mutating flora and fauna and warping not only the family’s percep- tion of time, but the Gardners themselves. It all devolves into a psychedelic phantasmagoria that embodies the insanity that touches so many of Lovecraft’s characters upon encountering the ancient and eldritch.

Stanley’s return to narrative feature filmmak- ing after his Island of Dr. Moreau debacle in the ’90s is particularly welcome. His deep knowledge and love of the author’s works is plain to see. Indeed, Lovecraft’s brand of weirdness meshes well with Stan- ley’s own, and while there’s rever- ence here for the original story, Col- or Out of Space remains a Richard Stanley film.

Of course, it’s also, for better and worse, a Nicolas Cage film. Cage’s histrionics, so effective in movies like Mandy and Vampire’s Kiss, are entertaining but ultimately undercut the tragedy at the heart of the film. (Hint: the Gardners don’t end well.) If nothing else, Color Out of Space is not only colourful, but pretty far out.


Chew On This SWALLOW

Starring Haley Bennett, Austin Stowell and Elizabeth Marvel

Written and directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davis IFC Films

Pica, the compulsion to ingest non-food items, is understood as a response to mental or emo- tional distress. It’s common fodder for A&E real- ity TV shows such as Intervention and Obsessed, but writer/director Carlo Mirabella-Davis han- dles the compulsion thoughtfully and hauntingly in Swallow, out this March from IFC Films. Newlywed Hunter (Haley Bennett) knows she should feel lucky for all that she has: an afflu- ent husband, a dream home on the water, and a pregnancy that thrills her bougie in-laws. But something is amiss with Hunter; a malaise she can’t even begin to understand, even as it manifests in strange behaviour. She starts

with small objects (marbles, padlocks, keys), gulped down and then retrieved to sit on her mantle like a trophy. When the items ingested become more dangerous to herself and her baby

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