Sunday, June 07, 2020

The Vast of Night (2019)

There seems to be this border region between good and bad movies.  It’s somewhat difficult to define.  A movie could be undone by any number of factors.  Having talent and money don’t necessarily promise a great movie.  It could have everything going for it and still fail due to bad timing.

Then, there are movies like The Vast of Night.  I get the sense that the movie is trying to say something.  It seems like one of those esoteric pieces that uses tricks and techniques to say things.  Is the writer being deliberately vague or was it just not written very well?

When I saw it available to stream on Amazon, I decided to give it a shot.  I like exactly that sort of sci-fi movie.  It seemed to maybe take itself a little too seriously, but that was ok.  I have 89 minutes to spare.  Why not?

I’ll tell you why not.  The movie seems to take itself way too seriously.  It’s presented as an episode of a Twilight Zone-type show with a narrator that sounds exactly like Rod Serling.  (The fictional town is even called Cayuga.)  It starts with Fay and Everett leaving a basketball game to go to their respective jobs.  (She’s a switchboard operator and he’s a DJ.)

When Fay starts having technical issues, she calls Everett.  Some calls are being dropped and other lines have some weird noise on them.  So, Everett broadcasts the noise, asking if anyone can identify it.  What follows is a sort of X-Files wannabe plot line, where Fay and Everett go chasing down little green men.

Unfortunately, the movie never goes anywhere.  You might think that the movie leaves things open to the viewer.  I would counter that by saying the movie suffers from lazy writing.  Close Encounters of the Third Kind left things open to the viewer.  It had the same basic plot, but captured the viewers’ attention.  It at least had direction and gave us something to think about.

The Vast of Night doesn’t have that.  It’s almost like Close Encounters for beginners.  It lacks any sort of tension or suspense.  There’s no legend versus reality.  It’s just two people telling their stories and part of one is secondhand.

It’s a shame, because the movie is great on a technical level.  It has great production values and is well acted.  It just lacks any sort of a hook.  I think most people are going to be bored with this before the main story gets going and I can’t even say that there’s anything wrong with that.

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