Delve Deeper

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mars reviews Colour from the Dark...

Lovecraftian composer, and friend of, MARS (Lovecraft: Fear Of The Unknown, Nyarlathotep) reviews Ivan Zuccon's Colour from the Dark...

Colour from the Dark (2008)
Directed by Ivan Zuccon

I am familiar enough with Ivan Zuccon's body of film work to have a solid frame of reference of his growth as a director, and specifically in his cinematic adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft's stories. The first HPL adaptation I saw from Zuccon was 2003's "The Shunned House" which I felt did a very admirable job of creating a somber, surreal atmosphere despite the "film's" (well, video really) budgetary limitations. Zuccon is obviously a real fan of Lovecraft, and he understands that throwing money at the screen is not what it takes to bring The Old Gentleman from Providence's stories to life.

The same dark undercurrent of mood and terror is present in Zuccon's current film, "Colour from the Dark".

This film is an adaptation of Lovecraft's "The Colour out of Space", which has met with a few previous attempts at translation to the silver screen. (Anyone remembering the lackluster "Die Monster Die!", or the painfully awful "The Curse" featuring a young Wil Wheaton and a very tired looking Claude Akins phoning in his "performance" back in the late 80's will see this film as a quantum leap forward in doing this particular story some cinematic justice.)

I won't go into the story, as I'm sure everyone reading this on this particular web site already knows it inside and out. I will say that there are extra characters, and plot elements that have been added to keep the story moving forward and engaging. Zuccon's additions are appropriate, and fit in nicely, so the HPL purists out there can rest easy; this is still close enough to the source material as not to be disrespectful, while still giving the film it's own identity.

Set in Italy during WWII, the story unfolds in a rather old school way, with an emphasis on keeping the pace deliberately less frantic than the current style most modern horror films fall victim to. If you've a short attention span, this may not be the horror film for you. But, those with an appreciation for a well-crafted storyline and solid characterizations will find this film very satisfying indeed.

For the most part, the acting is top notch, with lead actors Debbie Rochon (who is damn good even on her worst day), and Michael Segal carrying the bulk of the film. The rest of the ensemble cast turn in solid performances that never take the audience out of the moment.

The production value is outstanding, and the backdrop of the poor farmhouse never comes across as clich├ęd. The film's look features a fine colo(u)r palette and cinematography that belies the film's low budget. While still shot on video, there is a degree of artistry here that is visually reminiscent of Mario Bava's rich use of black as a color in his films. For this story, it works very effectively, and the look is comparable to that of film.

The special effects are standard CGI nonsense, but done with a degree of subtlety that helps them come across as much less obnoxious than most indie horror films these days. I am very impressed with the restraint that Zuccon has used with these FX, as it is another testament to his growing confidence as a director that he has opted to go with a "less is more" approach.

If I have any complaint here it would be with Marco Werba's rather pedestrian music score. While not bad by any means (the man is a consummate professional and a fine musician), it doesn't really capture the cosmic horror in a manner befitting this kind of story. All the standard scary stings and suspense cues are present and accounted for, but the end result just comes across (to me) as a bit uninspired. The bar for Lovecraftian film scores (at their best) means Lex Baxter's brilliant "The Dunwich Horror", or the work of Richard Band (whom Zuccon worked with previously on 2007's "Nympha") on "Re-Animator" and "The Resurrected" and this score isn't in that ballpark. Bear in mind, I'm a tough critic when it comes to film music (as evidenced by just how much space I've allocated to this part of the review) , and for the record I loved Werba's score to Dario Argento's "Gaillo".

So there you have it my fellow Eldritch Film Fans, there is another fine addition to Mythos inspired cinema to be on the lookout for. I highly recommend this to any fan of Zuccon's previous work, and for those just looking for an entertaining, well made horror film.


Copyright © 2009 MARS

(Thanks to MARS)

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