The Vast of Night (2019) is a gripping science-fiction film that is set not in the future but the past. The film transports us effortlessly to the little town of Cayuga in New Mexico of the 1950s and keeps us there. The film is available on Amazon Prime Video.
During a dark night, the entire community of a small town are inside the stadium watching a high school basketball game. Only two people are outside: One is a radio jockey Everett broadcasting to his handful of listeners, and the other is a bright schoolgirl Fay who is operating the town’s telephone switching board patching calls. Suddenly, they hear strange sounds over airwaves, as they try to unravel the mystery they learn hidden truths stretching over unbelievable distances.
The screenplay balances walking on the thin rope between being the paranormal and science and this creates the mystery mood. Director Andrew Patterson and his crew deserve big praise for the recreation of the time and space in great detail, almost every identifiable detail feels authentic – being an electronics and communication engineer the switchboard and the tape recorder impressed me the most of a time when a layman could comprehend how these electronics worked, unlike today. The two lead characters played by Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz were perfect for the characters, you fall in love with them as soon as you meet them – both the actors deserve awards for their acting.
Hearing what people in the 1950s thought the future holds for them is amusing. In the initial conversation that happens between them, an excited Fay tells Everett of the future of technology from articles she reads: A radio -controller car which runs on roads with electronics buried in the pavements in Lincoln, Nebraska and by 1990 all roads will be electronic; An underground subway train that travels between 2000 to 5000 miles per hour by the year 2000; Every baby in the future will be assigned a telephone number at birth and we’ll all have palm-sized dials on one side well speakers and microphone with the other side a small lilliput screen. Only the last one sounds familiar to what we have in 2020, showing us technology predictions will always be hit-or-miss!