Monday, October 12, 2020

Movie Monday: The Vast of Night

After a long sick week for me, I was in the mood for a movie last night, so my husband and I watched The Vast of Night, a new original movie from Amazon. This 1950's style sci fi drama is original, suspenseful, and a lot of fun.

The film has a very Twilight Zone feel to it.  In fact, the entire movie is framed as if it were an episode of a black-and-white TV show called Paradox Theater, which is clearly a send-up of the classic twisty show. Then, the audience is brought into the show (and the scene turns to real-life color), and the story unfolds in the small town of Cayuga, New Mexico. Sixteen-year-old Fay, played by Sierra McCormick, is a cute 50's teen in cat's eye glasses, a full skirt, and saddle shoes who talks a mile a minute. She's excited to show Everett, a slightly older guy played by Jake Horowitz, her brand-new tape recorder that she bought based on his advice. As they walk from the high school, where the rest of the town is gathering for a basketball game, Everett, who works as a DJ at the radio station, shows Fay how to use the device by encouraging her to talk about the science articles she's read recently. Then, Fay goes to work as the town's evening switchboard operator, and Everett heads to the tiny radio station to broadcast his nightly show. Fay starts to notice some odd happenings: the radio show cutting out, phone calls getting dropped for no reason, and an odd noise she's never heard before on one line. She calls Everett, who shares her love of science, and plays the strange sound for him. Fay runs over to the radio station (she does a lot of running in this movie!) and together, the two of them catch the strange sound on Everett's recording equipment, play it on air, take a call from a mysterious caller named Billy, and rush to visit an elderly woman named Mabel. Both Billy and Mabel tell strange stories about this noise, which they've both heard before, and Fay and Everett run around the empty town, trying to solve the mystery.

This movie is so much fun! Any Twilight Zone fan (like me) will feel right at home, and the story is filled with tension and suspense. It's not super fast-paced at first, but it feels just right for the 50's setting. The two main actors (who are on-screen most of the time) are both excellent in their roles, completely inhabiting their young, curious characters. A lot has been said by professional film critics about the production values of this movie and the unique ways in which it was shot. I'm no expert, so I can't comment on that, but as a viewer, I was fully immersed in the story and very much enjoyed it. And did I mention it's funny, too? To top it off, the ending felt perfect to me.

The Vast of Night is an Amazon original movie, so it is available exclusively on Amazon Prime.

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