“Color Out Of Space Ending Explained”
Warning! Major spoilers for Color Out Of Space below.
Color Out of Space is the latest adaptation of one of the works of prolific writer, H.P. Lovecraft, but Richard Stanley’s film does Lovecraft’s short story justice and creates a surreal, complex piece of horror.
H.P. Lovecraft is responsible for some of the most evocative and unsettling stories in fiction and his writings were instrumental in helping the cosmic horror genre gain serious recognition. There have been a handful of adaptations of some of Lovecraft’s more popular works, but he remains an author whose writing is extremely difficult to bring to life. Richard Stanley’s feature film expansion on Lovecraft’s short story, Color Out of Space, is one of the more satisfying examples. Stanley understands the creeping, existential dread of Lovecraft’s story and the insane visuals that are necessary for something of this nature.
Color Out of Space deals with a brilliant meteorite that lands in the front lawn of the Gardner family’s house. The meteorite eventually evaporates into the ground, but its presence immediately starts to have a serious effect on everything that comes in contact with it. The Gardner family suffers the most from this as bouts of insanity take hold of Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) and his wife, Theresa (Joely Richardson). It’s not just the Gardner family, but nature and wildlife start to transform and take on aggressive qualities. The most distressing detail is that the sky has taken on a bizarre, beautiful shade of purple. This hue is unnatural, and soon it’s clear that this invasive “Color” is an extension of the meteorite landing. This mysterious Color slowly breaks apart the Gardners, but Lovecraft’s story is full of strange developments that Stanley’s film doesn’t spell out. It’s clear there’s a serious threat afoot, but the circumstances behind it and its “defeat” are not so obvious.
There’s a very eloquent speech during the end of the film, which reiterates that this unknown entity “was just a color, out of space.” He speaks of how it’s some sort of messenger from a realm whose mere existence “stuns the brain and numbs us.” To Earth’s perception, this infection manifests itself as an incredible color, but that may just be how this other world communicates. The many impossible and unexplainable aspects of the Color and how it operates all point towards how this entity is alien in every sense of the word. Color Out of Space even suggests that something so foreign just brushing up against this universe can have such drastic ramifications. The laws of time and space stop making sense and all entities, living or non-living, subscribe to the Color’s rules of existence.
Additionally, Color Out of Space attempts to entertain both sides of this argument and introduces a few possible natural explanations for the Color, as if it’s some rare phenomenon from out of nature. Ward Phillips (Elliot Knight), another individual who becomes fascinated by the Color, is a scientist. He discusses the shift in the alkaline levels of the groundwater after the Color reveals itself and attempts to provide natural reasons for everyone’s erratic behavior, but it’s clear something supernatural is going on here.
There’s enough evidence in the film to suggest that Lavinia Gardner (Madeleine Arthur) might be responsible for the Color’s arrival. The film’s opening scene shows her reciting passages and practicing dark magic from out of the Necronomicon. She also inscribes certain selections from the book onto her skin. As the rest of Lavinia’s family slowly loses it to the Color, Lavinia remains in control, perhaps because what she’s done has acted as a way to safeguard herself, or because she’s responsible for it. Finally, during the film’s conclusion, the Color seems to telepathically communicate with Lavinia. Her psychedelic alien visions are broadcast into the sky, which not only evaporates Lavinia in the process, but it also appears to wipe out the rest of the Color and everything it’s infected along with her. Whether this is a conscious effort by Lavinia to put an end to the Color or simply the culmination of this strange alien experiment is wisely left open to interpretation, like most of the film’s events.
Even though it looks like Lavinia performs some kind of sacrifice that also gets rid of the Color, the film’s final moments imply that the Color still lingers in the sky on some level and that it still may be deep in the Earth’s groundwater, lying dormant. Perhaps there’s no way to truly be rid of it and once it graces anything on the Earth, it’s permanently tainted. So much of Stanley’s film emphasizes how truly impossible the Color is and that it’s so extraterrestrial in nature that mere attempts to understand it will render people insane because it operates on an entirely different universe’s set of laws.
The aftermath of the meteorite landing and the subsequent “birth” of this Color all seem to point towards some kind of alien testing. The Color is shown to only effect a very small, remote region, almost as if this is just the first stage and some preliminary sample. This could have been done to gain intel, judge the quality of the Earth, and then take an even larger sample next time. It also seems likely that the Color will need to conduct more tests and even if the danger is temporarily over, the extraterrestrial material is still embedded in the land and there are trace elements of it that are visible in the sky. It feels like the supernatural threat from Color Out of Space is now just biding its time and waiting for the right moment to strike back.
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