Cast: Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz
Written by: James Montague, Craig W. Sanger
Director: Andrew Patterson
Our pick today in our ongoing Lockdown review series is ‘The Vast Of Night’, a sci-fi thriller that’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Directed by Andrew Patterson, the feature film stars Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz.
What’s it about?
The story is set in the 1950’s, in a small town named Cayuga, New Mexico, where a switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) and radio jockey Everett team up to uncover a secret. One night, almost everyone from the town goes to watch a basketball match, and so, Fay stays back at home to operate the telephone switchboard. All of a sudden, she hears a strange audio frequency and a resident of the town calls her saying that she can watch something in the sky. Fay gets suspicious about these strange turn of events, and she seeks Evertt’s help to understand what’s happening. When Everett airs the unknown audio frequency and requests his listeners if they can share more information, Fay and Everett go on a wild goose chase while trying to figure out what’s happening in their town.
Andrew Patterson, who directed the film, does a clever job while trying to make the story as dramatic and suspenseful as possible despite limited resources. The entire story unfolds in a matter of a couple of hours and so, there’s a sense of urgency with Fay and Everett trying to get to the bottom of this mystery. At one point, it’s evident that the audio frequency has something to do with aliens; however, no one uses that term throughout the film. Moreover, the entire team does a terrific job in keeping you guessing about what could happen next. By making one of the characters a switchboard operator, the director and editor find an interesting way in dividing the story into interesting segments, because there’s always a danger of losing connection. This ensures that the suspense is maintained almost till the end.
The opening segment of the film, where Fay and Everett have a lengthy conversation is difficult to understand since it doesn’t seem to tie into the actual story which the film tries to tell. However, there are subtle hints about an advanced technology, which give an indication that the story itself is about science-fiction. However, once you realise what Fay and Everett might be looking for, the story itself becomes predictable. The entire story is built on the premise of two characters being really interested to uncover a secret, and given the indie-style of filmmaking, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
The storytelling is certainly inventive since it’s framed as an episode of Paradox theatre, which is an anthology television series. It leaves you with a feeling of watching a film within a film, and at the same time, this technique gives rise to a different style of editing which is quite interesting. If you are a fan of sci-fi genre, The Vast of Night is a good addition to the list of films that you could explore. In a way, it’s also a brilliant take about the UFO-craze and conspiracy theory about aliens that have kept people guessing for a long time now.
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