This gruesome slice of cosmic horror is one of the most visually arresting, instantly memorable genre entries I’ve seen in quite some time. From the first few frames, you know you’re in good hands: Director Richard Stanley’s first feature-length narrative since his infamous firing from 1996’s “The Island of Dr. Moreau” arrives fully formed, with a clear, distinct visual and sonic identity that immediately suggests a surreality that makes the first half compelling without being predictable or tiresome, and when things go awry in the second half, the veil is lifted and the horror becomes rooted in the incessant distortion of everyday reality. There are a number of genuinely upsetting moments that worm their way deep under your skin, and luckily Stanley has assembled a first-rate cast that faces an otherwordly threat with aplomb and such overwhelming distress that the narrative becomes unnervingly believable. There are some unfortunately unformed special effects peppered that take you out of the experience in the first half hour or so, but the movie mercifully eschews artificial CGI in favor of practical effects for the most part, and it results in several downright horrifying elements made all the more visceral by having the actors physically sharing space with their extraterrestrial attackers in lieu of green screen artificiality. I’m unfamiliar with H.P. Lovecraft’s 1927 literary source material “The Colour Out of Space,” but there are definitely many cinematic influences throughout this adaptation, like “The Shining,” “The Blob” and John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” that make the experience all the more satisfying for horror fans without being unoriginal or distractingly clever-clever.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)