The Vast of Night is an incredible piece of indie filmmaking. First, it is a throwback to a time when television and film were simple and less sophisticated. Yes, the film is black and white, but it’s the filmmaker’s careful attention to the images we see on the screen and how it also enhances the plot and emotions that are worthy of the highest praise.
As mentioned above, director Peterson crafts several incredible single shots lasting anywhere from four to ten minutes. When Everett and Fay are walking from the high school gymnasium to Fay’s home, the camera just floats around them and their conversation. The sequence of a caller describing his part of what could be a government UFO cover-up even hits on a racial element of the cover-up. It’s just a master blending of photography, choreography, and acting.
“…the highest achievement…is its artful storytelling. Tension is built solely from people telling stories.”
For me, the highest achievement of The Vast of Night is its artful storytelling. Tension is built solely from people telling stories. The long shots of callers to Everett’s radio show have our eyes transfixed on Fay listening intently through her operator headphones. Our ears then take in the mysterious caller and story as tension builds with mere words spoken over the phone. The same thing happens at the radio station with the cover-up story. Soon, the screen slowly fades to black, the audience, left in the dark, listen to the equivalent of a ghost story. I’m just anticipating a jump scare at any moment. You don’t need a massive FX budget to create suspense. You can do it the old fashioned way…with acting.
The Vast of Night is not War of the Worlds by any means, but the filmmakers sure make a small town alien visitation just as exciting and anxiety-ridden as Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Listen to Chris Gore and director Andrew Peterson talk about the filmmaking and distribution stories about The Vast of Night on the Film Threat podcast and be sure to turn off all the lights.
"…the screen slowly fades to black, the audience, left in the dark, listen to the equivalent of a ghost story."