Slamdance 2019: The Vast of Night

Sierra McCormick in The Vast of Night.

The Vast of Night takes us back in time to 1950s New Mexico while also placing director Andrew Patterson on the map as a filmmaker to watch.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and while that film held its world premiere last night, this is a very different flick.  This film could very well be one of the most talked about films that aren’t screening during Sundance.

Things are much different in Cayuga, N.M.  From the hair styling to the costumes, we’re definitely not in the 21st century any more.  This is very much a period piece with an added layer of science fiction–and I am loving it!  From the moment that The Vast of Night starts, one starts to get that idea that maybe this will not be an ordinary film.  As the film starts out, we’re watching a black-and-white television series.  The next thing you know, we’re sucked inside the set and and the picture turns to color

The gist of the film is that switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) and radio DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz) discover a frequency.  It’s a small town during the 1950s so naturally this is an indie film that soon hearkens back to the era of The Twilight Zone.  The film’s sound (no credited composer) seemingly adds to the tension at hand and is enough to lend some edge-of-the-seat thrills in viewing.  With the way that director Andrew Patterson frames this film (aided by director of photography M.I. Littin-Menz), there’s just enough to keep viewers captivated.  This may be an indie film but the camera work could rival any studio blockbuster film.  If I’m being honest for a moment, this whole film could rival such films!  Screenwriters James Montague and Craig W. Sanger deserve their due credit, too.

While most of the buzz takes place during Sundance, Slamdance is known for some undiscovered gems.  Could The Vast of Night join films such as Dave Made A Maze and last year’s Funny Story?  I think that there is a very strong possibility.  It’s a period piece much in the same way that Future ’38 was but a very different period piece.  This is the one thing I love about Slamdance since I started paying attention to the festival in 2017.

When it comes to science fiction, there’s a lot that can be done with the genre.  Sometimes, it gets done to death.  But there’s something about watching The Vast of Night that makes it feel like we haven’t seen anything like it before.

DIRECTOR:  Andrew Patterson
SCREENWRITERS:  James Montague and Craig W. Sanger
CAST:  Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz, Gail Cronauer, and Bruce Davis

The Vast of Night will screen during the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival in the Narrative Features program. Grade: 5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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