Grade 9/20 (F)
I was very disappointed with this movie. It has some interesting ideas, albeit not new ideas, and some good characters. But the choice of extremely slow pace coupled with bad camera/editing work found me not caring whether they discovered if there were sky people or not.
It is obvious from the beginning take off of Twilight Zone with their Paradox Zone that they were hoping for a nostalgic feel. In addition, they often used filtering to give it a grainy or black and white look (not to mention the times the camera pulls out and I am watching a tiny version of a 1950’s style set wasting a ton of side space on my beautiful HD TV). However, all their attempts to bring me into the 50s only pulled me out of the story. To make matters worse, if possible, there were several times they were trying to pull of what the movie 1917 so brilliantly pulled off with a long single camera view. This isn’t bad but it isn’t good. And in one place when an elderly lady is being interviewed it is downright painful.
There are two basic characters that we follow in this story. Everett a radio DJ, played by Jake Horowitz, and Fay a telephone switchboard operator, played by Sierra McCormick. In the beginning part of the movie, the two of these share an interesting scene in a kind of getting to know you where Fay tells stories of supposed articles she read about the future. This was probably the highlight of the film for me. Shortly after that, Fay discovered a signal on the phone lines and radio waves and contacts Everett. This results in the two going on an evening chase to find out about what these signals are. Everett comes off as a cock jerk that never redeems himself. Fay is likable but a bit unbelievable because she leaves her very important job of the night switchboard operator because there was a sound. And should this have been a Russian invasion (mentioned as possible) or even alien invasion, her job to be able to route important calls would have been critical and she just leaves it. Either super irresponsible which I didn’t get with her relentless search for what the signals were. Or she just doesn’t care about her job or the people of the town who need the phone which Was also not displayed with her concern for some not answering their phone and the search. The only other character who had any depth was the old lady who described the disappearance of her son. But here they did this really really really long single shot and the lady wandering almost reminiscing that was actually boring. She had depth and came off believable just boring.
After reading the description and the high ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and other sites, I expected a take on War of the Worlds with a few twists thrown in to make it fresh set in the 1950s. What I got was an editor and cameraman with a few new toys and a script that was so drawn out it that it almost put me to sleep. The plot (without spoilers) is basically guy and girl meet, they find a strange signal, and they search to find out what it is. Now in stories with little plot they usually focus on developing the characters so that you are very invested in caring about them so when the whammy/hook/twist/climax of the story occurs you care about the outcome. I didn’t find enough character here to care and what characters I did find seemed unreal (Fay for example mentioned above). The other problem with this plot is there was no tension. People weren’t disappearing. A clock wasn’t ticking down. No one was racing to save anyone. It was simple like an hour and half of two people running around (at points using a car). So in the end I didn’t care if the sky people were real or if they were aliens.
Family Friendliness 4/5
Since this was set in the 1950s, the only thing that could be slightly not family friendly was all the smoking and how it was portrayed as basically the cool people smoke. But even that was very light. SO overall a very family friendly movie–albeit boring and would probably sends the kids to sleep–but family friendly.
Nuts and Bolts
Amazon’s “The Vast of Night” is available for streaming and stars Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz and more. It is rated 13+ which is probably for the smoking and maybe some use of mild language but I really didn’t notice much.