The Vast of Night

A science fiction movie can be huge in scale without a massive budget. A film made on a shoestring can be just as effective. The genre works due to the atmosphere and tension generated. Directed by first time film-maker Andrew Patterson, ‘The Vast of Night’ has these elements and a miniscule budget. Patterson’s skills in telling the story as well as masking technical limitations makes him one to watch in whatever cinematic field he chooses.

In 1950’s New Mexico, radio DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) is helping with a high school basketball game. Catching up with telephone switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick), he thinks it will be another breezy night. When Fay hears a mysterious audio signal over the switchboard phone lines, she asks Everett for help. What follows is a night filled with shocking surprises with conspiracies, disappearances and high drama changing them forever.

‘The Vast of Night’ takes its cue from 1950’s American sci-fi TV shows like ‘The Twilight Zone’. Visually and story-wise it’s very similar with Patterson evoking a constant suspenseful moody feel. The plot is driven by two determined characters wanting to uncover the mystery at any cost. In this way, ‘The Vast of Night’ also has a vibe of an ‘X-Files’ episode. It’s just as compelling with the small ensemble cast drawing out their character’s emotions without resorting to melodramatics.

Patterson remembers not to have ‘The Vast of Night’ wear its cheapness like a badge of honour. He makes the effort in utilising what he has to work with in the form of striking visuals and tight pacing. It isn’t always perfect but ‘The Vast of Night’ tells a simple tale as well as possible. As an ode to the classic TV series it is inspired by, works a treat. The CGI bells and whistles aren’t missed as the performances and look provide their own brand of spectacle.

It’s always exciting seeing a new film-maker work magic. Whilst ‘The Vast of Night’ is small in money, it is big with well expressed ideas. It will be interesting seeing what Patterson does next with his debut movie showing a new film creator with lots of promise.

Rating out of 10: 7


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