Indy, eery sci-fi flick, "The Vast of Night" wants to pull you in to its very own Twilight Zone, and yet it never fully grabs a hold.
For a first-time directorial effort, "The Vast of Night" can be considered impressive. Director Andrew Patterson shows real promise as a manipulator of mood, but he is not yet a master. His film is all talk - literally - and you can't fault a sci-fi movie for its lack of budget...many of the very best of the genre are the ones that don't have millions of dollars to blow on special effects or CG bells and whistles. That being said, with the look and feel of a shoestring budget independent - dare I say student-produced if not for the spot-on period recreation - film, "The Vast of Night"'s big issue is that it takes too long for the viewer to invest in the strange occurrences happening just off-screen.
Starting things off by hitting the nail directly on the head, the movie begins with a slow move-in through a 1950s family home, straight to a black-and-white TV set that is playing a show reminiscent of "The Twilight Zone." That simple gesture puts us in the head-space that we're about to embark on an intellectual mind-bending journey, but what follows, sadly, is about 40 minutes of exposition featuring characters that are altogether annoying. The fast-talking, small-town radio DJ, Everett (Jake Horowitz) especially, but also the nerdy switchboard operator, Fay (Sierra McCormick)...the pair discover some strange audio anomalies one night and things begin to get weirder and weirder.
But by then, it's nearly too late. And while Patterson does show a knack for building tension, he overuses a few tricks. Take for example, the slow, tracking shots that take up most of the film's first-half, where the camera follows, always from behind, and never too close. For a horror flick like "It Follows" where the danger is literally following the main subjects, that may be a cool trick, but here it just distracts from the story.
If you're a die-hard fan of "The Twilight Zone" or just of sci-fi in general, you may have the patience for "The Vast of Night," but for everyone else, this movie will seem like a long, cold ride, even at a lean 89-minute run-time.
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Run Time: 1 hour 29 minutes
Starring: Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz, Gail Cronauer.
Directed by Andrew Patterson (directorial-debut).
"The Vast of Night" is available on streaming platforms on Friday, May 29th, 2020.
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