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Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Patterson’

“THE VAST OF NIGHT” My rating: B+ (Now streaming on Amazon Prime)

89 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

The low-budget “The Vast of Night” is like the best episode ever of “The Twilight Zone.” With a dose of “American Graffiti” tossed in.

Unfolding on on fall night in the late 1950s in the tiny burg of Cayuga NM, Andrew Patterson’s film delivers a big dose of weirdness made all the more unsettling by its roots in banal reality.

It’s a Friday night and at the local gymnasium the high school basketball team is getting ready to kick off their season. Everett (Jake Horowitz), a twenty something who operates the local radio station, is setting up a tape recorder so that one of his colleagues can do a play-by-play of the game.

(Actually, the game tape won’t be broadcast until  the next day.  As Everett observes, nobody listens to find out who won — they already know — but to hear the names of their sons spoken through the ether. It’s an example of the minute details exploited so effectively in Patterson and Craig W. Sanger’s screenplay.)

Everett, who is so nerdy he’s actually cool in a Buddy Holly kind of way, won’t watch the game. He has to return to the station for that night’s program of recorded music and call-in commentary.

He’s accompanied on the walk across town by Fay (Sierra McCormick), a 16-year-old in cats-eye spectacles, pony tail and poodle skirt who is Cayuga’s nighttime telephone operator. (For the callow  youths reading this:  There was a time when a phone call to your neighbor required an operator poking wires into sockets on a huge circuit board; naturally a small-town operator knew the dirt on just about everybody.)

Fay is a science nerd who chatters enthusiastically about the articles she’s been reading in popular magazines (one predicts the development of telephones with tiny TV screens; another self-driving cars.)  Everett enjoys playing the role of big-brother/mentor.  They briefly refer to the Soviet Union’s recent success with Sputnik (Cold War paranoia wafts throughout).

Sierra McCormick

Once downtown Fay and Everett settle into their respective chairs and prepare for another boring night.  Heck, virtually every Cayugan is at the game.

And then Fay gets a call…well, not a call so much as a weird mechanical/electrical noise.  This coincides with reports of strange lights in the sky. She transfers the call to Everett, who puts it on the air.

He gets a call-in from Billy (the unseen but excellent Bruce Davis), a former soldier who in a long monologue tells of building a hangar in the desert for some sort of top-secret aircraft.  He recognizes the weird audio signal being aired by Everett as accompanying the strange craft.

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