Cageism is the word that defines people enthralled and confused at the same time by the works and choices of actor extraordinaire Nicolas Cage. Cage’s career definitely has the big studio hits, but he always seems to revel in the scripts that take his audience out of their comfort zone. But then again, anyone who dares to watch a Nicolas Cage film is already prepared for what might unfold. There is no middle ground in a Nicolas Cage performance. In Color Out of Space (2019), his performance might initially seem grounded, but as the narrative progresses, his performance reaches heights of magnificent madness. Yet there is a method to his madness. Think of “Mandy.”

“Color Out of Space” binds together the minds of three such individuals: H.P. Lovecraft, Richard Stanley, and Nicolas Cage. Lovecraft’s short story provides the raw material, but Stanley’s direction takes the film to its cult heights. It’s horror and scientific fiction until it fully transforms into a gonzo and does it with aplomb. The film is, although not just Nicolas Cage.

The supporting cast does not let Cage down and weaves into the madness that is this film. Lavinia, the dark arts performing deranged teenage daughter of Cage, played by Madeleine Arthur, fully embodies what it means to be on-screen Cage’s daughter. His son Benny (Brendan Meyer) is dazed and confused through his contact with Ezra, played by the infamous (Tommy Chong), a squatter in the Gardner estate. Jack (Julian Hilliard), the family’s youngest member, ends up with his mother (not in ways you can imagine).

Color Out of Space (2019) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

What happens when the pink-colored meteorite crashes at the farm?

“Color out of Space” begins with serene visuals of Arkham, Massachusetts – the countryside where the Gardner family resides in their family home. The peaceful visuals are soon replaced by that of Lavinia performing a voodoo ritual to rid his mother of cancer and also leaving the countryside since she is more of a city girl and feels frustrated. She is interrupted by Ward (Elliot Knight), a dashing hydrologist whom the county hired to conduct some groundwater tests to construct a dam. After a brief interaction between the two, Lavinia returns home. Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) retired from his city life after his wife Theresa’s (Joely Richardson) mastectomy. In the process, he took his entire family to their farm, growing vegetables and alpacas.

Everyone is on edge and unhappy until a brightly pink-colored meteorite crash lands on their farm. The following day, when the mayor and sheriff both come to inspect what had fallen in their town, the meteorite had already disintegrated. Ward and Lavinia examine the nearby area while Theresa confronts her daughter about her ensuing love. Ward visits Ezra and asks him not to drink the water, which has taken the color of an oily nature. He sends it for further tests. There are bad mood swings, and in a Donald Trumpian moment, Cage ends up mimicking him.  Later,  Theresa, while making dinner, quietly cuts off two of her fingers.

What happens to the mother and son?

Nathan takes Theresa to the nearby hospital to get her fixed. Lavinia tries to contact her father, but all she gets in return is a bunch of static. Disconnected from the world, Lavinia tries her best and asks Benny to take the alpacas inside the stable. She tries to clean the blood and experiences a horrific out-of-body experience. Benny returns late and realizes that time passed instantaneously for him. When Nathan returns, he lashes out at Lavinia for leaving Jack out and scolds Benny for not feeding the alpacas.

As the film progresses, unusual things start to unfold. Jack keeps looking at the well where he thinks there is a friend. Soon, unusual insects are flying over the farm, and everything takes on the color of the pink meteorite. The tomatoes, which were supposed to ripen in another couple of months, have already ripened. But the Gardner family’s mood has started to change. Hurt by her father’s outburst, Lavinia, with the help of her book, Necronomicon, tries to save her family by offering blood and through self-mutilation. Benny spends time with his brother Jack, who is particularly close to the dog in the family.

After some disturbance in the barn, they both make their way to the barn and see that that same shiny pink meteorite substance has possessed the dog. They run from the horrific scene until Theresa grabs Jack. Benny calls them, but he is too late. A flash of rays targets the mother and son. Soon, Nathan comes to the scene, and what follows is a grotesque body-horror, gonzo image. Theresa and Jack have been fused together. It’s like an evil doctor sewing two bodies with not so much care, combining them into one single horrific mass.

With Benny and Lavinia’s help, Nathan brings them back to the attic. Benny informs Nathan that the alpacas have also been fused. Nathan takes his shotgun to kill them, screaming like Nicolas Cage would. He comes back to the attic and decides to kill the mother-son mass but is unable to do so. Lavinia and Benny decide to leave the farm on the horse. But the horse runs away. Benny remembers hearing his dog inside the well, where the color assimilates him.

Color Out of Space (2019) Movie Ending Explained
A still from “Color Out of Space” (2019) starring Nicolas Cage as Nathan Gardner.

By this time, Nathan has gone fully wild and has locked Lavinia up with her mother and son. He is seen enjoying a drink with ice cubes with the pink substance inside it. Ward tries to warn the mayor, but it is brushed aside. The Sheriff shows him a fused animal he had recovered, and Ward remembers that the Gardner family is isolated.

What does Ward see?

Ward and the sheriff see a distraught Nathan enjoying a family evening without any member of the family present in the room. As they hear the sounds coming from the attic, they go up and see the mother-son fused duo, hungry, animalistic, trying to eat Lavinia, and finally, Nathan shoots them. As the film approaches its climax, Ward tries to save Lavinia, but she wants to be with her father. The color tries to attack Ward, and Nathan tries to shoot it. The sheriff, mistaking Nathan that he wanted to shoot Ward, kills him. As Ward and the sheriff try to save Ezra, they are met with a decomposed body of him with a recorder running, explaining how the color just wanted to make the Earth like their planet. Subsequently, a mutated tree kills the sheriff.

As Ward returns, he sees the color has also possessed Lavinia, and he is thrust into the middle of a vision, exactly like the psychedelic-infused visions. He sees how the aliens belong to a different planet and are trying to make it habitable. As there is a disintegration of space and time, he is thrust into the living room with a mad apparition of Nathan, trying to kill him. He takes cover in the wine cellar as the Color destroys the estate. He climbs out of the cellar and makes his escape. In the final scene, the dam has been made, and Ward is seen standing there smoking a cigarette and vowing. The water is as clear as it can be, but he never drinks the dam’s water.

Is it just a horror/sci-fi film?

This film is a premonition. Yes, the essential characteristics of the narrative point towards the genre-specific elements. But if you probe a little further, there are many inescapable links to the destruction of our environment. It would be rude not to assume so. The film does talk directly to the population. There is no escape from the fact that humans have exploited nature to the hilt and are continuing to do so. Through many conventions and high-level summits that have taken place, we have been told that we have reached the point of no return. We do not pay any heed to such conversations. The selfish nature of humans is to blame.

Covid can be taken as the most significant example of this. Long back, there was a separation between wildlife and humans. There would be a buffer between us and them. But as we have become obsessed with progress, we have started shifting towards gentrifying the sanctuaries. In turn, our contact with wildlife has increased. Now, we get exposed to harmful viruses and toxins. Town-leveling tornados have become an everyday possibility. So, the grotesque mother-son mutation is a metaphorical image of the near future.

Why water?

Water is the most important element of earth. There is no subtle symbolism in this film. That’s the genius of Richard Stanley. He creates a two-hour-long Earth special through a creative story-telling process. Big companies have long polluted water bodies through oil spillage, toxic waste dumps, chemical draining, etc. But the onus of saving the environment has always been on us. The aliens in the film are no different than us. We are the ones who are making this environment as uninhabitable as possible.

Instead of trying to fix this world, we are making plans to colonize other planets. The characters in the film are well thought out. Lavinia mainly represents the city-bred youth who believes in unrealistic dreams. This is the condition we are in. Well-educated individuals’ belief systems have been manipulated. Mutations in thought and practice are as dangerous as genetic mutations. The film is scientific fiction, but none of it felt fiction in any way.

Color Out of Space (2019) Movie Ending Explained:

What does the ending of the film mean?

Ward’s hallucination is nothing but impending anxieties of the human race. As survival becomes the norm, life becomes more or less a privilege. There is no message of hope at the end of “Color Out of Space.” At the film’s beginning, the serene, scenic images of the wood are replaced by the capitalist image of the dam. The destruction is more gradual than the sudden nature of living beings ceasing to exist, but we are gradually escalating toward that no-win scenario.

Even the use of the hallucinogenic pink is entirely symbolic. The color palette is often considered aesthetically beautiful. Benny and Jack’s scene where Benny tells Jack that the ‘color is something beautiful, isn’t it?’ is the perfect example. What appears beautiful might not have the same kind of meaning. During the COVID-19 pandemic, where millions of people have died, a lot of us have often claimed how peaceful it was to be stuck inside the house with nothing to bother us. “Color Out of Space” is exactly that. Even though Nathan wanted his family to be safe, it could never be the case. If nature has to die, we all will be a part of it, even if we don’t want to.

Read More: 10 Best Nicolas Cage Movie Performances

Trailer:

Color Out of Space (2019) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
The Cast of Color Out of Space (2019) Movie: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Elliot Knight, Madeleine Arthur, Q’orianka Kilcher, Tommy Chong
Color Out of Space (2019) Movie Genre: Horror/Sci-fi, Runtime: 1h 51m
Where to watch Color Out of Space

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