Genres: Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction
Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Links: IMDB | Wikipedia
In the twilight of the 1950s, on one fateful night in New Mexico, a young switchboard operator Fay and charismatic radio DJ Everett discover a strange audio frequency that could change their small town and the future forever.
Another film I missed out on at last year’s Philadelphia Film Festival, The Vast of Night made its way to Amazon Prime as an exclusive just over two months ago now. Similarly to what I did recently with signing up for HBO Max and Netflix trials to watch exclusives on their services, I also briefly signed up for a Prime subscription so I could check out this movie. In this debut film from Andrew Patterson, Vast easily draws comparisons to series such as The Twilight Zone, as the film’s setting is the 1950s and has a science fiction and mystery vibe to it.
One night while most of the town is holed up at the town’s high school for a basketball game, Fay (Sierra McCormick) is at her job as a switchboard operator and Everett (Jake Horowitz) is the nighttime disc jockey for the local radio station. Fay is tuned in to the radio to listen to Everett’s show when all of a sudden it’s interrupted by a mysterious humming noise. It’s then that Fay’s calls are getting dropped as people begin phoning about something happening in the sky.
Fay calls Everett asking if he knows anything about the mysterious sound she heard through the radio, playing back a recording for him. He doesn’t know what it is, but he plays it back on the air asking the few people who are tuned in to call if they know something. A man named Billy calls in and tells the two a whole story about where he knows this sound from, but much of it’s still shrouded in mystery. Fay and Everett work together, running around town gathering as much information as they can about this strange humming noise, no matter how unbelievable and alarming the truth may be.
Per some quick research, the film had a budget of under one million. Considering this is Patterson’s debut film, I’m impressed by how far the production team managed to stretch those dollars, ultimately delivering a great tracking shot and fantastic camera work overall. However, quirks such as the framing changes when it switches to being on a TV screen felt unnecessary and takes away from being immersed in the darkness of night in Cayuga, New Mexico. While Vast does create some suspense, some parts feel like they take longer than necessary. Ultimately, the film does attempt to answer some questions it creates, I feel too many were left unanswered by the end.