While the influence of H.P. Lovecraft is evident in a number of films and projects over the years—think the cosmic horror in movies like The Thing, Prometheus, Alien, or Pacific Rim—adaptations of the author’s stories are pretty scarce, especially outside of independent and short films. That seems to be poised to change with the trailer for director Richard Stanley’s film Color Out of Space, featuring Nicholas Cage contending with an otherworldly threat.
The film is based off of Lovecraft’s short story “The Colour Out of Space“, which first appeared in pulp magazine Amazing Stories in 1927. It’s narrated by a surveyor who recounts some strange happenings near the town of Arkham, Massachusetts. Years before, a meteorite crashed down near the town, casting off strange, undefinable colors, and poisoning the land, which has a detrimental impact on the local crops, wildlife, and citizens.
The trailer for the film shows off a story that’s been updated a bit, but which otherwise looks pretty close to the original story. It stars Nicolas Cage as Nathan Gardner, who moves to Arkham, when his family inherits a rural estate. When a meteor falls from the sky, the plants in the area start changing, and the family begins to experience other strange phenomena. The film also stars Madeleine Arthur (The Magicians), Tommy Chong (Zootopia), Julian Hilliard (The Haunting of Hill House), Q’orianka Kilcher (Yellowstone), Elliot Knight (Titans) , Brendan Meyer (The OA), Joely Richardson (The Rook), and Josh C. Waller.
According to S.T. Joshi in his book A Subtler Magick: The Writings and Philosophy of H.P. Lovecraft, Lovecraft wanted to present aliens as something different from the humanoid depictions seen in pulp stories. The story is also one of several that visit the town of Arkham, including “The Dunwich Horror”, “The Whisperer in Darkness”, and others, making up an early sort of shared universe for Lovecraft to play in.
Despite the general lack of feature adaptations of Lovecraft’s work, there have been a handful of adaptations of this particular story before: the first was 1965’s, Die, Monster, Die!, which loosely adapted the story. Audiences and critics received 1987’s The Curse and 2008’s Colour from the Dark slightly better, and a crowdfunded German film Die Farbe (The Color) earned praise from H.P. Lovecraft scholars.
Color Out of Space first premiered at The Toronto Film Festival in September, and the film will get a wider release on January 24th, 2020.