Last week I watched a 2010 German adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s famouns short story, this week, I take a look at the 2019 version starring Nicolas Cage. Directed by Richard Stanley, who delivered the infamous The Island of Dr. Moreau with Brando and Kilmer, this version differs from the German version, but its essence is the same, as we follow a family into madness and horror after a meteorite striked their property and begins to affect the environment around it.
Cage is the patriarch of a family that lives in a secluded home, in the middle of nowhere, they draw their water from a well, wife, Theresa (Joely Richardson) struggles to work from an upstairs office via dodgy wifi, daughter, Lavinia (Madeline Arthur) flirts with wicca as a way to deal with the stresses of life, while brother, Benny (Brendan Meyer) smokes up constantly. The youngest Jack (Julian Hilliard) is a boy filled with curiousity.
And it’s no surprise, that the family structure is tenouous to begin with, and with a Lovecraft story, you know that nothing is going to go well for these characters. Once the meteorite stikes, things start to get weird, as it seems to infect the flora, fauna, animal life, and the water table around the house, slowly converting things into something, other.
The colour that came from this rock is unlike anything seen before, but of course, the film can’t really convey that, so instead, much like the German film before it, it plays with purplish colours, and adds pulsating strands of colour throughout it.
What is different from the other version, is that we see everything that the colour wreaks upon the land and those who live there, claiming everything that is around it, culminating in a confrontation that leaves an ominous worry for the future, like all good Lovecraft tales do.
This is not a happy ending film, and if you know anything about the story, or Lovecraft, you know there is little hope for these characters going into the story, and watching it play out could be tough for some viewers, but I found it a very solid adaptation of Lovecraft’s work, from the madness to the physical changes that happen to the family, to the ending that suggests that trouble could only just be starting.
Cage has become a bit of a cliche in his performances. You expect him to lose it at various points throughout the narrative, and he happily obliges, but there are quieter moments, when I really like his performance and you can see that he and his loved ones are struggling to hold their family together, even as it becomes increasingly possible, as time, physicality, and sanity make it impossible.
This isn’t a film for everyone, but a definite must for Lovecraft fans, as well as those who love Cage.