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Review: "The Vast of Night" is a Charming, Original, Offbeat Thriller

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday May 29, 2020
'The Vast of Night'
'The Vast of Night'  

A clever and low-budget twist on the "aliens are contacting us" genre, Andrew Patterson's "The Vast of Night" is a cute and intriguing '50s-era invasion film that is both modern and nostalgic at the same time.

At the beginning of the decade, high-school smarty Fay (Sierra McCormick) and her local radio station DJ bestie Everett (Jake Horowitz) are trying to avoid the big school basketball game as they have much nerdier interests. Everett is all about smoking cigarettes and his job as a DJ, while Fay is super excited about her new reel to reel tape recorder and becoming a journalist "someday." The two wander away from the school as Fay heads to her night job as a switchboard operator in town and Everett goes to host his nightly radio show.

But while tending to her rather boring and isolated job, Fay comes in contact with call from a desperate-sounding woman whose connection suddenly turns to a strange mixture of static and a throbbing sound. She keeps hearing this, so she contacts Everett, who listens to it and thinks something odd is afoot. The two gather their resources and begin to investigate. As they do, they realize they might have made one of the biggest discoveries in history. Or did they?

"The Vast of Night" is a charming, offbeat thriller that could easily have been a really cool stage play. Much of the film is a conversation between the two main characters. In fact, the first twenty minutes or so is a zip-zap conversation between the two leads: think the banter of "His Girl Friday" meets "The Gilmore Girls."

Once things start getting weird, the two wind up contacting a man with an interesting story that might reveal the source of the strange sound, and then eventually meet up with an older woman who knows more about the mystery than they would have ever suspected.

But it's a lot of talk, and while there is some suspense as the kids race around town, this isn't an edge-of-your-seat thriller. It's a fun curiosity unlike a lot of similar films that rely on twists, shocks, and surprises. This is what makes "Vast" more original than most, though it might test the patience of viewers seeking something a bit more intense and laden with special effects.

McCormick and Horowitz are both terrific with McCormick the clear stand-out. Her rat-a-tat-tat banter and engaging presence catapults this film in a way a lesser actress could not have. Her chemistry with Horowitz is perfect to the point where you almost want to see a TV show with those two investigating mysteries while growing up and dealing with normal life stuff — like love. Because you know that underneath all the geeky trappings, there's some hormones bubbling.

"Vast of Night" isn't going to be a charmer for everyone, but it's original and special enough that it will keep cinephiles interested and genre fans impressed by the ingenuity of the filmmakers.

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Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.

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