Movie review: The Vast of Night

Cayuga, NM

Vast of NightThe Vast of Night made it onto Ty Burr’s 10 movies to watch. He writes: “Andrew Patterson’s first film is a crowd-sourced labor of love about two high school kids discovering strange doings in the skies over 1950s New Mexico.

“It’s an example of the most movie that can be squeezed from the least amount of resources, with beguiling performances from Jake Horowitz and Sierra McCormick in the leads.”

It “premiered at the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival in January 2019. Amazon Studios acquired distribution rights to the film and released it on May 29, 2020, including drive-in theaters in the United States and via video-on-demand on Prime Video,” which is how I saw it.

This movie is clearly influenced by the TV series The Twilight Zone. The setting is Cayuga, NM. Cayuga Productions was the name of Rod Serling’s production company…

“The name was taken from Cayuga Lake, one of New York’s ‘Finger Lakes.’ The lake is about an hour drive northwest of Binghamton, and was where Rod and his family had a summer home.”

The Vast of Night is very much dialogue-driven. Initially, I found the radio DJ (Horowitz) a bit obnoxious, but I really liked the teen switchboard operator (McCormick) from the start.

As the mystery unfolded, I found myself rooting for them both. And the witnesses they spoke with were convincing. The film had the right atmospherics to keep me watching these two, who wanted to get out of town and follow their dreams.

And then…

I’m afraid the great failing for me is the conclusion. It lacked a satisfying resolution, that part in TZ where you hear Serling wrap up the story. Nevertheless, it may well be the opening salvo of Patterson’s directorial career.

The Vast of Night is on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of best films of 2020 at #97, with 92% positive reviews from the critics. The audience reviews were less favorable, at 65%.