The Vast of Night

2019, Mystery & thriller/Fantasy, 1h 30m

244 Reviews 1,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

An engrossing sci-fi thriller that transcends its period trappings, The Vast of Night suggests great things for debuting director Andrew Patterson. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

In the 1950s, two kids search for the source of a mysterious frequency that has descended on their town.

Cast & Crew

Gail Cronauer
Mabel Blanche
Bruce Davis
Billy
Voice
Gregory Peyton
Benny Wade
Mallorie Rodak
Susan Oliver
Mollie Milligan
Marjorie Seward
James Montague
Screenwriter
Adam Dietrich
Producer
Marcus Ross
Executive Producer
Erica Williams
Executive Producer
Caleb Henry
Executive Producer
M.I. Littin-Menz
Cinematographer
Erick Alexander
Original Music
Adam Dietrich
Production Designer
Jonathan Rudak
Art Director
Adam Dietrich
Casting
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News & Interviews for The Vast of Night

Critic Reviews for The Vast of Night

All Critics (244) | Top Critics (49) | Fresh (225) | Rotten (19)

  • "The Vast of Night" is an entertaining sci-fi nostalgia piece that's made with an unusually high level of technical flair.

    February 5, 2021 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • A low-fi genre gem that proves the age-old maxim that less is often more-especially when such minimalism is wielded by gifted artists.

    February 2, 2021 | Full Review…
  • The technical proficiency of Patterson's debut is off the charts, and it'll be interesting to see if and how this gifted filmmaker manages to maintain his independence...

    January 27, 2021 | Full Review…
  • Writer-director Andrew Patterson and cinematographer M.I. Littin-Menz are at times breathtakingly mobile as their camera navigates a tiny world frozen in nicotine amber.

    July 1, 2020 | Full Review…
  • This one will leave the hairs on your arm standing up...

    June 23, 2020 | Rating: A | Full Review…
  • The story of The Vast of Night is nothing particularly special. The storytelling, though, is spectacular.

    June 8, 2020 | Full Review…
  • "The Vast of Night" is an entertaining sci-fi nostalgia piece that's made with an unusually high level of technical flair.

    February 5, 2021 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • A low-fi genre gem that proves the age-old maxim that less is often more-especially when such minimalism is wielded by gifted artists.

    February 2, 2021 | Full Review…
  • The technical proficiency of Patterson's debut is off the charts, and it'll be interesting to see if and how this gifted filmmaker manages to maintain his independence...

    January 27, 2021 | Full Review…
  • Writer-director Andrew Patterson and cinematographer M.I. Littin-Menz are at times breathtakingly mobile as their camera navigates a tiny world frozen in nicotine amber.

    July 1, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Add other like good dialogue and actors who speak it well, and The Vast of Night works like a ray of light in the dark world of sci-fi retreads...

    July 19, 2021 | Full Review…
  • This captivating debut feature pays affectionate and mischievous homage to 1950s sci-fi.

    March 13, 2021 | Rating: 8.3/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Vast of Night

  • Jan 09, 2021
    This sci-fi gem plucks many nostalgia nerves, all in a good way -- The X-Files/Twilight Zone, Stephen Spielberg, Super 8 and maybe even Orsen Welles infamous War of the Worlds broadcast. Two amateur sleuths (a radio DJ and switchboard operator) in a 1950's small town track down a strange signal/sound on the airwaves that leads them straight into UFO/alien abduction territory. There is a great one shot scene that takes you through the small town that is a joy to behold. While it seems like it is more of a TV episode of one of the above shows, this is one delightful indie.
    Mark B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 26, 2020
    You'll have heard the saying "sometimes less is more" and never has that been more true when it comes to debutant director Andrew Patterson's impressive low-budget, sci-fi gem, The Vast Of Night. Set in a small town in 1950's America, Patterson's film pays homage to classic science-fiction yarns of old like The Day the Earth Stood Still and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, or tapping into Tv shows like The X-Files and (far more obviously in its opening shot) The Twilight Zone. The paranoia of this time in the U.S is evoked wonderfully and Patterson manages to do so with a meagre budget and two brilliant central performances from newcomers Jake Horowitz and Sierra McCormick. From the opening scene, it grips and only expertly builds on that momentum with some inventive directorial touches; dialogue heavy scenes are lingered on, while sweeping tracking shots give a grander overview of the small town and there's even fade to black moments that capture the wonder (or the dangers) of the night sky surrounding the characters. This is hugely impressive filmmaking from a newcomer that plays out like a live action version of the now infamous and ill-fated Orson Welles radio broadcast of War of the Worlds that caused panic among its listeners. Patterson keeps things very simple and doesn't rely on special effects, instead showing a confidence in his material and as much as this may irk some viewers just remember... sometimes less is more.
    Mark W Super Reviewer
  • Jun 27, 2020
    THE LAST RADIO SHOW - My Review of THE VAST OF NIGHT ( 3 1/2 Stars) With their feature film debut, director Andrew Patterson and his co-writer Craig W. Sanger have made an idiosyncratic splash with the micro budget yet winning sci-fi mystery, The Vast Of Night. Set in 1950s small town New Mexico, the film begins with a Twilight Zone-style introduction as we push in on an old fashioned television. The main story, the film-within-the-film, centers around two teens who one night discover a strange signal at their respective jobs as a radio host and a switchboard operator. Have aliens invaded or perhaps the Soviets? With the rest of the town at the local high school basketball game, can the two of them save humanity? While admittedly, the story feels very slight, the charm lies in the telling. Patterson, along with his resourceful cinematographer, M.I. Littin-Menz, go for long, sometimes swooping, sometimes static takes which allows us to immerse ourselves in this world. We first meet Everett (Jake Horowitz), a talk radio host at WOTW (War Of The Worlds, anyone?) as the camera follows behind him as he's summoned to the gymnasium to help with an electrical problem. Cocky, immensely self-assured, Everett talks fast as he lopes from one interaction to the next. He invites Fay (Sierra McCormick), the aforementioned telephone operator, to tag along and show him a new tape recorder she's purchased. Fay, although much more naive than Everett, possesses an inviting sense of wonder about the new technology. He goads her on to interview various people in their cars in a sweetly charming sequence. What seems like a throwaway scene actually cuts to the heart of the film, which, to me, is about the joy one experiences when you discover a like-minded person who feels thrilled by anything new and unknown. I could watch Everett and Fay banter all night, which is exactly what you get with this film. Because they're so delightful, it's easy to enjoy their discussions about future tech like cell phones, GPS, and self-driving cars, all of which would have felt too on-the-nose with lesser filmmakers and actors. Horowitz and McCormick have wonderful chemistry and make a great impression so early in their careers. As the two go off to their night jobs, we stop with Fay for a stunning, long single take as she patches calls in until the fateful signal comes across her switchboard. McCormick proves adept at holding our attention through what could have felt like a monotonous scene. As she involves Everett in this mystery, the filmmakers go on a fantastic flight of fancy as the camera glides past Fay, whooshes through the town, makes a pit stop at the basketball game and ends up in the WOTW radio station as Everett involves himself in the story. It's amazing what one can do on a tiny budget when you have such resourceful filmmakers. Eventually, we get another set piece involving a black man named Billy (Bruce Davis) who calls in to provide some information key to the origins of the strange signal. Much of it is told with the screen blacked out, emphasizing the radio show feel of this story. As Billy very calmly tells his long tale, Everett and Fay listen intently, slowly realizing that black voices very rarely get heard in their world. It's an important moment in the film as our heroes learn how secrets remain secrets when held by an oppressed minority who nobody would give the time of day. Somewhere in this film lies a message about what little progress we've made since, but it does get overshadowed by the almost rom-com nature of our central relationship. The film gets more intense from here on out, leading to another eerie encounter or two and a cathartic yet subtle ending. With its high school background and one horse town qualities, the film reminded me of Peter Bogdanovich's masterpiece, The Last Picture Show, mixed with Orson Welles' radio broadcast of War Of The Worlds. Like Picture Show, you learn every inch of this town and like the radio show, your imagination fills in the eerie blanks of a story told mainly in darkness or on the faces of our two leads. Much of the 1950s aimed to keep the population in fear. People feared the communists, nuclear war, and emerging social changes. Everett and Fay represent the hope of a future where what we fear is also what excites us the most. This little film, with virtually no big special effects, filled me with a sense of wonder and awe.
    Glenn G Super Reviewer
  • Jun 04, 2020
    If you had told me that The Vast of Night was based upon a radio play or a narrative-driven podcast, something like the popular Welcome to Night Vale, I would have completely believed you. This is a very dialogue-driven story where the movie seems to hit pause and allow a speaker unfettered time to tell their tale in patient monologue, like a sci-fi edition of This American Life (I'm coming up with a lot of comparisons here). It's a more high-concept, cerebral, imaginative-dependent science fiction.  In 1950s New Mexico, a small-town radio DJ and a teen switchboard operator, both with dreams of leaving the town for bigger things, discover a strange signal and eyewitness reports of something in the sky. Over the course of one night, the characters investigate the signal and those who experienced it before. The Vast of Night flies right out of the gate, long takes giving space for fast-paced dialogue exchanges. The direction is very assured with long tracking shots to maintain the tightrope walk of a live theater performance that the screenplay imbues. I was always interested in what was happening but I can see many other viewers failing to click with the material and its narrative restraints. I do think the movie could use more of a resolution and errs by having the wrong combination of characters for a climax, denying the only real emotional catharsis that was offered by the screenplay. I'm sure many will simply find this movie slow and boring (it's only 89 minutes but even that might be pushing it for many). The Vast of Night feels like an extended Twilight Zone episode, for better or worse. I applaud the ingenuity of the director and screenwriters on a small budget but I would not be surprised that bigger and better things lie ahead for each of these creatives. Nate's Grade: B
    Nate Z Super Reviewer

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