FYI: This is a German film based on H.P. Lovecraft’s story, The Color Out of Space. In German, the movie is titled simply Die Fabre, translated to English: The Color.
What a hidden gem of a movie this is! Most of the major films claiming to be inspired by H.P. Lovecraft commit all the sins typical to the worst of 80s horror movies: too many rubber masks, melting faces, and screaming as victims and villains dissolve into bright white light. In short, an emphasis on gore and flash. Any reader of Lovecraft knows that gore is sometimes there, but that’s not what drives his horror.
Lovecraft’s stories create a deep dread, a fear as characters find themselves in the presence of a much greater power that is at best apathetic but more often malicious. The common reaction characters have to these powers (assuming the character survives) is a babbling gratitude that these other-worldly beings have not discovered or decided to torment humanity as a whole. The basic human craving for “Why?” remains painfully elusive. The only thing that is certain is that these supernatural powers have no respect for, or fear of, humankind. We are but their playthings.
That’s what H.P. Lovecraft’s stories are all about, and The Color Our of Space captures it perfectly. The black and white filming and the slow pace is a perfect match for the creepiness of Lovecraft’s writing. An unrelenting strangeness creeps toward you, drawing you in by using your curiosity, until you realize there is no escape, sometimes physically, but more often from the knowledge you thought you wanted.
The film is true to the story except for a slight and irrelevant discrepancy on the setting (rural Germany in the movie, rural Massachusetts in the prose.) Other than that, it’s a near-perfect adaptation.
I love films like this: independent labors of love with none of the trappings of modern movies such as product placement, overbearing and irrelevant soundtracks, and the inescapable cliche of the characters marching slow-mo in Flying-V formation to enjoin the final battle.
Die Fabre is certainly not for everyone (there’s some English but mostly it is spoken in German with English subtitles) but I gladly give five stars for someone finally, FINALLY bringing the great horror stories of Lovecraft to the screen with a professional sheen. I hope to see more.
p.s. Regarding more: doing research for this review, I found the makers of this film are working on another Lovecraft-inspired film, The Dreamlands (Link.) I also found this page on the Lovecraft e-zine. It includes all kinds of film representations of Lovecraft’s work. (Link.)