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The Vast of Night - Movie Review

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The Vast of Night

Well, razz my berries!  A true original has entered into our cinematic consciousness.  Think you know 1950s-era science fiction?  Think it can’t be done differently?  Think again.  The Vast of Night has arrived!

Director Andrew Patterson, an Oklahoma City native, makes his feature film debut with the arrival of The Vast of Night, a science fiction film that - complete with long, sweeping camera takes and soft, inky photography - brings back the 1950s and AM radio signals like few other blockbusters can or dare attempt anymore. 

"charged with an atmosphere that just won’t quit pushing bounds making the film endlessly charismatic, creative, and beyond clever in its rollout"


 

There's something in the sky!

Cleverly moving from a television show to the actual movie, The Vast of Night is simply FILLED with artistic touches that recalls past science fiction glories WITHOUT calling attention to itself.  Something that even J.J. Abrams still struggles with. But here, Patterson and cinematographer M.I. Littin-Menz work in unison to create a striking partnership that REFUSES to give you what you think you are going to get from this gem.  

And it happens within the opening few moments as we, once freed from the television frame, trail behind a radio DJ and whomever strolls up to him for conversation.  We get trombone stealing, information about tape recorders, and overlapping discussions about electrical issues thanks to all sorts of animals in the gymnasium.  There are no close-ups whatsoever.  It works to create the scene - a high school basketball game abuzz with activity - and the establishing community as this mysterious night gets started.

The Vast of Night, in which a teenage switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) and a charismatic radio DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) discover a strange audio frequency that could change their small town and the future forever, is genius-level science fiction fare, offering framing devices - courtesy of a Twilight Zone-like program called “Paradox Theatre Hour” - and chilling sequences that will either leave you in awe (like the opening shot) or scare the pants right off of you.  

That’s what happens in Cayuga, New Mexico on the fateful night of our story.  Co-writers James Montague and Craig W. Sanger have created charming characters and they drop them in the middle of a big high school basketball game before injecting space-race fears into their small town world.  Sure, the future is on the tips of their tongues - with crackling dialogue about full-sized radio controlled cars - but the fearful realities don’t hit home until a 10-minute, single take sequence in which Fay, now at the switchboard, listens to Everett on the radio while making and taking calls.  

Suddenly, she gets a strange alien-sounding call.  She doesn’t know the noise, so she asks for help in deciphering it.  The call is followed by another - a frantic woman exclaiming that there are three large objects over her land - and, with no one answering the phone at the police station, the mystery expands as another call explains that a truck driver saw something huge that blew past his trailer and flipped it over.  Something is happening in the town.The Vast of Night

With awesome tracking shots - one which takes viewers throughout the entire small town (back to the basketball game and beyond) as Fay steps out to have a smoke - and a twisting plot that is buoyed by strong cinematic choices, The Vast of Night is definitely NOT a movie you want to miss.  The film is charged with an atmosphere that just won’t quit pushing bounds making the film endlessly charismatic, creative, and beyond clever in its rollout.

Co-starring Gail Cronauer as the eerie Mabel Blanche, Cheyenne Barton as Bertsie, and Bruce Davis as Billy who calls Everett’s radio station with information about the noise and what it means for their community, The Vast of Night invites ALL viewers to enter a realm between clandestine and forgotten.  As Billy’s story goes on concerning the sweat work he did for the military, the danger in town magnifies and so does the creative atmosphere of this spellbinding flick.

The Vast of Night, filmed in Texas and Edmond, Oklahoma, will be released theatrically in the United States by Amazon Studios in drive-in theaters and on Prime Video on May 29th.  Keep watching the skies, my friends.

5/5 stars

The Vast of Night

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor:
Available on Blu-ray

Screen Formats:
Subtitles
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Audio:

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The Vast of Night

MPAA Rating: PG-13.
Runtime:
89 mins
Director
: Andrew Patterson
Writer:
James Montague, Craig W. Sanger
Cast:
Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz, Gail Cronauer, and Bruce Davis
Genre
: Sci-Fi
Tagline:
A film by Andrew Patterson
Memorable Movie Quote: "What's going on, Everett?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Amazon
Official Site:
Release Date:
Select Drive-ins May 15, 2020, Amazon Prime May 29
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: You are entering a realm between clandestine and forgotten.” So begins the story of one fateful night in 1950s New Mexico. Photographed in soft, inky-dark tones and shot in nearly real time, THE VAST OFNIGHT follows young, winsome switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) and charismatic radio DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) as they discover a strange audio frequency that could change their small town and the future forever. Set at the dawn of the space-race and replete with uncanny and ironic period details, THE VAST OFNIGHT falls down the rabbit hole of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone and stitches together a narrative scavenger hunt through dropped phone calls, AM radio signals, secret reels of tape forgotten in a library, switchboards, crossed patchlines and an anonymous phone call. The unexpected is explored both in thefilm’s twisty plot and its bold cinematic style, which includes stealthy long camera movements and even a spookily effective black screen.

The Vast of Night

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