“The Vast of Night” stars Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz, Gail Cronauer, Bruce Davis, and Greg Peyton. Released on May 29, 2020, the film has two teenagers investigating a mysterious sound that came through the radio.
The film features the directorial debut of Andrew Patterson. Now it’s time to move on to something completely different. Throughout the years in filmmaking, there are two types of films that deal with extraterrestrial life: One that involves beings from another planet plotting to destroy the human race with explosions and flashy special effects, and one that has the human characters investigating something that relates to alien life. This latest sci-fi drama falls into the latter category. While it is nice to watch the humans battle alien invaders for two hours, there’s nothing more intriguing than seeing them investigate the possible existence of the creatures from beyond the stars. There’s just something about it that makes the entire situation feel more enthralling compared to seeing multiple cities being blown up by alien technology. “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Contact” are the prime examples that did this concept justice, and it looks like this film has what it takes to make it onto that list. I was very late on reviewing this because I was deciding whether or not I should talk about this. If you’re reading this right now, then that means I had already made my decision. So, let’s start talking about it.
Taking place over a single night, the film follows two teenage friends: Switchboard operator Fay Crocker (McCormick) and radio DJ Everett (Horowitz). They run a radio station together in 1950s New Mexico. When a strange noise interrupts their radio broadcast, Fay and Everett decided to investigate this unordinary sound while the entire population is at the high school basketball game. What they’ll discover could change their entire lives forever. The film’s narrative is framed to resemble an episode of a fictional anthology series known as “Paradox Theatre”. If you grew up watching “The Twilight Zone”, “The Vast of Night” should definitely hit your nostalgic nerves like they were drums. This is another sci-fi film that relies more on dialogue-driven sequences instead of the big-budget special effects that usually define the science fiction blockbuster genre, so there’s bound to be a couple of dragged-out scenes that could put any casual viewer to sleep despite its 90-minute runtime. Aside from that, this is a remarkable sci-fi thriller that’s both heart-pounding and engrossing. First-time director Andrew Patterson made his first impression known by understanding the tools that made the sci-fi elements popular in the 1950s as well as the qualities that made the other sci-fi investigation films like “Close Encounters” special. Not only that, but his effective use of the tracking shots, the transitions, the lighting, and the cinematography made the film look authentic, creepy, and awe-inducing. The result is a familiar, yet stellar, tribute to the time period and the mysteries during that time that left us scratching our heads for years. McCormick and Horowitz were both riveting in their roles as Fay and Everett respectively, delivering performances that felt natural and real during this specific predicament. Gail Cronauer was also great as Mabel Blanche, one of the people that Fay and Everett went to during their investigation. She only appears in one scene, but in terms of her dialogue, she made every minute of her scene count with spectacular results. The film’s score by Erick Alexander and Jared Bulmer is also something to be desired as it has the right touch of eeriness to further emphasize its mysterious sci-fi elements.
Overall, “The Vast of Night” can be a bit uneven when it comes to the pacing, but it’s still a fascinating and passionate debut from Andrew Patterson. Thanks to its intriguing cast, Patterson’s direction, and its ingenious score, the film was able to leap over its similar elements and deliver a captivating piece of science fiction cinema that’ll impress almost every film enthusiast on the planet. With how good this film was, it’s hard to believe that I almost missed out on this one. Good thing I found the right time to catch it before I lost interest in it. If sci-fi investigation is your thing, then this film should definitely suit you well.