The Vast of Night Is Quarantine Goodness

The Vast of Night Is Quarantine Goodness - because what we need right now is a whole lot more indie alien movies.
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As I write this – to tell you that The Vast of Night is Quarantine Goodness – there are riots happening in most major cities. Police are teargassing innocent bystanders. Heck, reporters are being shot with rubber bullets. It’s pretty crazy out there. And I personally am feeling more than a little helpless – cooped up, under quarantine. But I definitely believe that our best and most effective recourse right now is to vote. To peacefully protest, and to channel our massively justified hatred at the polls. But in the meantime, I wanted to say thanks to Aaron for bringing The Vast of Night to us, why? Well, because during one of the most stressful weekends of the year (and that is saying something) I had a blast with this movie.

Alright, if you haven’t heard of the film – which I hadn’t until Aaron mentioned it – you are 100% justified. Why? Well, because it was directed by Andrew Patterson. Oh, yeah! Him! No. You don’t know him. I don’t know him. No one knows him. His IMDb page was created like a week ago. Same goes for the two brilliant writers, James Montague, and Craig Sanger. Nothing. Nada. Which just totally amps me up even more than I can tell you. This film is small film at its best, because it’s small film being huge. And that is the best kind of Indie brilliance. Anyway – have a Trailer – then go find the film right here. Watch it for free on Prime. Then come back. ‘Cause everything from here on out is going to be 100% spoilers. Fair enough?

You shouldn’t have watched that trailer. “WHY DID YOU WATCH THAT TRAILER!!!! Gah. I mean, This is THiNC. after all – what? Do you not trust me here? I’ve been pumping out great movie recommendations for years now! “But I only just found out about this site, and to be honest, you seem to be yelling quite a lot.'” “THESE ARE ALL EXCUSES!”

Sorry. I promise to take my lithium before my next post. PROMISE. Because this is getting excessive. (I swear, I don’t take lithium. Or Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, or even Dexedrine. None of it. I promise. But maybe I should. Alright, let’s dive into this little movie of greatness. And if I have any temptation to hit the caps lock I’ll punch my hand instead. Deal?

Quick Movie Walkthrough

The Vast of Night is framed as if it were an episode of a show called Paradox Theater. Which, sorta seems like a pretty fantastic alternative to The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror. Anyway, the movie opens with Fay Crocker (played by Sierra McCormick) and Everett Sloan (played by Jake Horowitz) doing some of the greatest penned walk and talk dialog lines in film history. And during these walk and talks we learn that we are in Cayuga, New Mexico, and we flashing back to the 1950’s. Fay happens to be a switchboard operator. (Side note? I badly want one of those switchboards. I have literally no idea what I’d do with it, but I want it.) And Everett, well, he is the town’s local radio DJ. As a side note, I think Fay might have a crush on Everett. But who knows. Regardless, when Fay begins getting reports that weird things are afoot there in the town, she starts to freak out a bit. But with everyone out at the big basketball game, including the police and anyone who might be anyone, she’s a little stuck as to what to do. So she calls over to Everett in order to find out what he thinks about these strange sounds she has been hearing over her switchboard.

Everett takes the mysterious sounds to his listening audience, in order to see if anyone out there might have any idea as to what they might be. As luck would have it, one of his listeners calls in and tells a couple of wild stories about how, when he was in the military, he was assigned to help with a mysterious round spaceship looking structure. And when he was there, doing that work, he heard that same noise. And other friends of his that he had deployed with also did other jobs with other spacecraft. He believed that the military only had people work on small tasks in order to keep everyone from knowing everything about what was going on.

Our crime fighting duo of Everett and Fay aren’t really sure what to make of all of this. Eventually they get a call from a woman named Mabel Blanche. One thing leads to another, and they find themselves at Mabel’s house. Now, I would like to pause the story-telling-rehash, and just say something. Get this off my chest. Gail Cronauer, playing the part of Mabel Blanche, has a moment on this film that is transcendent. I’ve already talked of my love for the parts that both Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz did in this film. But, there is a moment, where Cronauer calls her shot, and hits a grand-slam. Just an epic moment, in a great little film, and she is transcendent. I’ve always thought it would be amazing to have a bit role, in a small film, doing lines like these. Just so great:

“I think on the lowest level, they send people out on errands. They play with people’s minds, they sway people to do things, and to think certain ways so that we stay in conflict, focused on ourself. So that we are always cleaning house or losing weight, or dressing up for other people. I think they get inside our heads and do destructive things like drink and overeat. I’ve seen good people go bad and smart people go mad. I think at the highest levels, they do things to cause nations to go to war. Things that make no sense. And I think no one knows they are being affected. We all work out other reasons to justify our actions. But free will isn’t possible with them up there.”

So, at this point, Fay and Everett are pretty certain that the entire town has collectively lost their lids. But even so, they get a tip that there is something in the sky, just outside of town. So Everett and Fay head out. But when they get out of the car, they see a cylindrical hole burnt through the forest cover, and up through to the sky. They run to a clearing, and watch as a small ship meets up with a larger mother ship. Cut to the basketball game, and we watch as the fans head out into the town. Cut to a windblown path…where we see the massive reel to reel audio recorder sitting in the dirt.

The Vast of Night Is Quarantine Goodness - because what we need right now is a whole lot more indie alien movies.

Uh What Happened Now?

One of my favorite moments in the film is when Everett and Fay, interested to share what Mabel had told them, play back the nonsense words that she had been spouting as they walked into her house. And as they do, the driver of the car, and his wife, both begin staring directly up at the ceiling. So much so that the car starts wandering into the path of an oncoming vehicle. It is little touches like this that just had me swooning about this movie. And seeing that reel to reel buried in the windblown sand was just another, “oh woooaaaahh” moment, that I just loved immensely about this movie. And if you didn’t understand the ending – we can take the left behind recorder as confirmation that Fay, Everett, and the little baby had all been hauled off into the sky. Their disappearance is either A) confirmation that the aliens have been amongst us, or B) Fay and Everett have been dying to flee the little town and thought aliens would be a great cover to do so! hahah.

But the bigger story here is that Mabel was right. She had a theory that the people in the sky were operating some sort of systematic mind control of the people out in the boonies of 1950’s America. Their babble speak that Mabel memorized proves that. And better yet, these sky visitors have been controlling us for many years previous. That we are justifying our insane actions all the time. We justify away our free will…

Final Thoughts on The Vast of Night

I have read comments about this movie that it was confusing, slow, and anticlimactic. Nothing could be further from the truth here. This is an awesome low budget movie with some really fantastic writing and acting. I loved pretty much everything about this movie. The screenplay specifically. But I can see how some might dislike the long monologues and the particular style of this folksy technicolor play. But they are wrong. Definitively. The slow rise in the escalation of tension was perfectly plotted and dialed in. As evidenced by this New York Times anatomy of a scene postmortem:

And it’ll nigh on impossible for you to convince me otherwise… Now, if you are interested in another movie or two like this one – I can’t recommend Pontypool highly enough to you. They are really really similar movies. And better yet, We’ve Forgotten More Than We Ever Knew!

Edited by: CY