May 28, 2020

GENRE | 'The Vast of Night' Sounds Off on Prime Video

"There's something in the sky. Stay in the house!"
Jake Horowitz Sierra McCormick Andrew Patterson | The Vast of Night | Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Studios
There's such a deliberately controlled pace immediately felt in freshman director Andrew Patterson's electrifying '50s-era retro sci-fi indie drama. Unfolding in real-time with soaring long-takes for what feels like a series of continuous shots to its camerawork, the micro-budget film The Vast of Night (shot over only seventeen days) is a superb lo-fi contained narrative that uses analogue imagery to perfectly put you into the mood of the unnerving slow burn story of paranormal sightings.

Starring Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz as know-it-all teenagers Fay and Everett, a cat-eyed switchboard operator and chainsmoking late night radio DJ, we are quickly dropped into a bustling night in this generic New Mexico (shot in Texas) border town (Cayuga, population 492) in 1957 where the local high school basketball game distracts most its inhabitants.

A strange noise overheard suddenly piques the interest of our main characters as they set off to investigate the mystery behind the unexplained sounds while the rest of the town is initially preoccupied. Cinematographer Miguel Toan Littin Menz offers a hypnotic lens to the crisp visual language of the ambitious film alongside its sharp sound design as it effortlessly builds the structures the characters are seeing and hearing.

Sierra McCormick Andrew Patterson | The Vast of Night | Amazon Prime Video

Written by James Montague and Craig W. Sanger, the script features plenty of efficient yet naturalistic dialogue while still echoing vintage all-American period banter. Everything from the beginning chatter about emerging technologies and peak radio culture serves to effectively feed into the basic mysteries of the unknowable.

With clear allusions to The Twilight Zone (called "Paradox Theater" here) and wholesome 1950s nostalgia, The Vast of Night intelligently reinvents classical filmmaking techniques to build its tension tapping into small-town paranoid conspiracies.

It's impressive how tightly The Vast of Night unfolds with such confidence and style while always remaining period appropriate. Patterson's fresh material about another time in American history taps into our reverence for simpler yet timeless stories of UFOs, alien invasions, and unseen or unexplained threats to our ideal way of life.

The Vast of Night is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

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