Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Vast of Night (2020)

Streaming Service: Amazon Prime Video
Movie Name/Year: The Vast of Night (2020)
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Length: 89 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: GED Cinema, Amazon Studios, Amazon Prime Video
Director: Andrew Patterson
Writer: James Montague, Craig W. Sanger
Actors: Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz, Gail Cronauer, Bruce Davis, Cheyenne Barton, Mark Banik, Gregory Peyton, Adam Dietrich, Mallorie Rodak, Mollie Milligan, Ingrid Fease, Brandon Stewart, Kirk Griffith, Nika Sage McKenna, Brett Brock, Pam Dougherty, Lynn Blackburn, Richard Jackson, James Mayberry, Nicolette Doke, Grant James, Libby Villari, Gordon Fox, John Gindling, Brianna Beasley, L.A. Young

Blurb from IMDb: In the twilight of the 1950s, on one fateful night in New Mexico, young switchboard operator Fay and charismatic radio DJ Everett discover a strange audio frequency that could change their small town and the future forever.

Selina’s Point of View:
I am a big fan of the original Twilight Zone (1959-1964) series. So, I was thrilled to see that The Vast of Night definitely took inspiration from it. There was the obvious opening, but there were other little odds and ends – such as the name of the town being a reference to Cayuga Productions. You could make a decent drinking game out of looking for references to older works of sci-fi, because it doesn’t stop there.

I digress.

The movie felt like a real-time telling of something that was actually occurring in a small town in New Mexico. I found that to be a very risky way to frame a movie, but it was a risk worth taking for most of it. There were moments of intrigue and charismatic looks into characters that you would normally miss out on, but there were also some moments that are usually cut for a reason.

For instance, there’s a moment in the film when one of the main characters, Everett, is on the line with a caller during his radio show and the camera kept cutting to nothing. During those moments, you’re hearing the caller speak and seeing a blank screen. I get that it made it feel more like listening to the radio show, but I hated it. I have attention problems and without seeing anything on screen I got continuously distracted.

I understand that it may just be a me problem, but I really don’t think having that much blank-screen time is a good move. It wasn’t just a cut-to-black transition, the nothing was actually a scene on its own.

I honestly believe that the film would have been helped by condensing it just a bit. It’s already on the shorter side, sitting at about an hour and a half, but I think it could have been cut a full 15 or 20 minutes.

That’s not to say it’s a bad film. I do believe it drags on at points, but for the most part I was hooked. I wanted to know what people were seeing in the sky. I wanted to know what the sound was. And, quite honestly, I adored the ending. It felt right for the story that was told.

A lot of people smarter than me think that the cinematic choices for The Vast of Night were bold and perfect for the plot. So, I guess, take my criticisms with a grain of salt. It could be that this film works much better for someone without an attention disorder.

Cat’s Point of View:
The Vast of Night trailer had me falling in love with the retro-vibe and the feeling that audiences would be in for an extended episode of The Twilight Zone (1959-1964). I absolutely adore that series. I enjoyed the feeling that I was watching an episode from that era – amplified by the black and white TV segments used for framing and transitions in the film.

With everything going on in the world right now, I have had a heavy heart and have found it hard to concentrate lately. That is one factor that didn’t do this movie any favors.

It’s a bit of a slow burn in-between moments of energy and frenetic conversation. If I didn’t have subtitles enabled, I am sure I would have lost track of dialogue a few times. There’s one point that a multi-character exchange happened where people were talking at the same time and talking over each other – the subtitles couldn’t keep up.

I’m not sure I liked this movie as much as I thought I would, but it did certainly deliver on the mystery and ambiance that the trailer promised. I did feel as if I’d just watched a solid bit of sci-fi noir, so in that sense, the film was highly successful. It also had some significantly suspenseful moments where I found myself gasping and hoping for the best.

I am not likely to go out of my way to recommend this movie to others, but I wouldn’t steer anyone away if they were interested in watching it. Fans of old-school Twilight Zone will likely get more out of the experience than those who didn’t watch the original series.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 91%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 62%
Metascore – 84/100
Metacritic User Score – 6.8/10
IMDB Score – 6.8/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3/5

Movie Trailer:

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