The Vast of the Night doesn’t reel you in with its special effects, dark tones or ‘50s aesthetic — it relies on an element that predates Hollywood and movies altogether: storytelling.
In a small New Mexico town, at the dawn of the space race, a 16-year-old switchboard operator (Sierra McCormick) and a young radio DJ (Jake Horowitz) discover a weird noise coming through the radio and phone line, while nearly everyone else in town is at the local high school’s basketball game. As the duo attempts to discover the origin of the sound (even suspecting Soviet involvement), storytellers they meet along the way take them down a rabbit hole toward realizing the sound may not be from this planet. The first storyteller calls in to the radio station to relate the sound to his top-secret military experience. Later, an old shut in explains how it connects to losing her child many years earlier. These stories and others grip viewers like a well-written audio book, or just a really good call during open lines on Coast to Coast AM. As the mystery deepens, viewers are taken on a tour of Cayuga, New Mexico through long, uninterrupted shots amid empty streets. We also learn that the entire story exists in a Twilight Zone-type show.
With a script reminiscent of a Rod Serling yarn, filled with witty dialogue, weird occurrences and ‘50s jargon, it’s a noteworthy tribute to the greatest show on television.
Directed by Andrew Patterson and written by James Montague and Craig W. Sanger, The Vast of the Night is in the Narrative Features section of the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival.
Upcoming screening: Monday, Jan. 28, 8 p.m., Ballroom Screening Room, Treasure Mountain Inn, Park City