Review: The Vast of Night. Two friends combine their curiosity and courage to figure out where the hell that sound is coming from.
The sound is haunting. Two young people whose lives revolve around audio, one a radio operator, the other a telephone operator, connect to first confirm, then investigate the mysterious sound.
Set in 1950s rural New Mexico, in the fictional town of Cayuga Amazon’s, The Vast of Night delivers an intimate narrative that digs deeper into the real conspiracy behind conspiracy theory.
The town converges on the high school, ready to embrace the spectacle of basketball amid roaring crowds, pumped up by a cheer squad waving pom-poms, and building precarious edifices to human flexibility and strength.
But outside, and down the road, it’s not a usual night. Something in the air isn’t right, and it’s making noise. The action doesn’t involve government agents or even local police. It orbits through the world of Fay (Sierra McCormick) and Everett (Jake Horowitz), two typical teenagers working night shifts while their friends enjoy the basketball game. They inhabit old-fashioned, yet nerdy Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys personas that drive them to drive the plot.
The two team-up to figure out the noise, and soon turn the radio station into a reality show as Fay routes telephone calls to Everett to broadcast over the air.
As I said, this is intimate. Flashes of the game only reinforce the pair’s isolation—the film ties the couple to invisible that stretch and contract—all the time releasing narrative energy. Fay and Everett play lead investigators this spooky evening. It is easy to imagine that this night will influence how their lives unfold from this point on.
The James Montague and Craig W. Sanger script tightly contains the dialog and action, while Andrew Patterson direction shifts between walls and vast openness of sky and land, keeping the audience guessing if there is a threat, and from where it might arrive.
Nods to Orson Wells and H.G. Wells permeate the plot, but the streaming generation is never asked to believe any of it, unfortunately. Unlike Wells who deadpanned the radio play as first-person reporting, this story broadcasts its intent with an opening that mimics the Twilight Zone.
The Vast of Night’s own sound, from the creepy throb to the score, keep the film centered, enhancing rather than distracting. Tight camera work and cinematography help choreograph the evolution from confusion to exploration.
With The Vast of Night Amazon lands a well-crafted little movie that will appeal to science fiction and mystery buffs. Thankfully the film refrains from soap opera by steering far away from cliched teenage angst tropes or romantic interludes or tensions. The Vast of Night is all about how two teenagers react to what is happening to them as a mini-maelstrom of the unexpected descends into their lives. Their journey is worthy of your attention.
For more reviews from Daniel W. Rasmus click here.
- Included with Amazon Prime