Title – The Vast of Night (2019)
Director – Andrew Patterson (feature debut)
Cast – Jake Horowitz, Sierra McCormick, Gail Cronauer, Cheyenne Barton
Plot – In the 1950’s, a small New Mexico town starts experiencing some strange events with DJ Everett Sloan (Horowtiz) and local switchboard operator Fay (McCormick) investigating what the cause may be, an investigation that will lead them down an unpredictable path.
“They’ve come here before”
Review by Eddie on 12/06/2020
A retro sci-fi that captures the 50’s vibe of paranoia and tension perfectly, Andrew Patterson’s debut, that acts as an incredibly well-filmed and staged affair is a talk heavy experience that favours conversations over set-pieces as we explore a night in a small New Mexico town that is quite possibly experiencing a visit from someone or something not from our world.
Delivered in a serial tone that includes interludes to old school TV box sets and black and white moments, The Vast of Night is a well thought out throw back to a more innocent era of sci-fi film-making that is carefully put together by Patterson and his films MVP cinematographer M.I. Littin-Menz, who mysteriously and meticulously follows radio DJ Everett and switchboard operator Fay across a wild night of high school basketball, terrified residents and ex-government employees who may or may not know about extra terrestrial goings on.
There are a huge number of moments within the film that usually aren’t found in either debut features or small-scale offerings but Patterson and his capable team deliver the goods in a production sense with Vast feeling like a far more polished product than other similar affairs of this ilk, with the landscape in which Everett and Fay play out their story in feeling alive and vibrant in the films entirely night-time set locale.
Where Vast struggles to maintain its effective opening act is within its central mystery and also the development of both Everett and Fay.
With so much of Vast taking the mantra of show don’t tell there’s initial suspense and intrigue that is built up around the strange happenings our duo find themselves in but as the film ticks past the half way mark, one does begin to grow tired of the antics of running to and fro without much scope outside of tense conversations.
You keep waiting for an impactful moment to strike but it never really comes, not even in a fairly out there final stretch.
Amongst all of this is the consistent chatter and back and forth between Everatt and Fay, well played by Jake Horowitz and Sierra McCormick respectively, the two main characters in the film aren’t overly endearing as they talk over each other and explore the information they’ve become privy too while delving into a strange sound they hear.
It’s like the film is in an ever present state of hinting at moving into the next level or delivering a gut punch moment that wows us but it never comes, despite the fact the craftsmanship and strength of how its all been put together is undeniably impressive.
Final Say –
A film that will no doubt get director Andrew Patterson some serious attention from the big players in Hollywood, The Vast of Night is a strong debut from the new director but one that threatens to achieve greatness rather than one that actually gets there.
3 tape recorders out of 5