Amazon’s The Vast of Night Takes on the Classic UFO Story

Critics are singing the praises of Andrew Patterson’s directorial debut.

I watched the trailer for Andrew Patterson’s The Vast of Night several weeks ago, but for whatever reason, the movie fell off my radar shortly thereafter. But I’ve since come across several reviews that make this story of UFOs, strange phenomena, and Cold War-era small town life one of my most anticipated movies of the month.

First up is Shelagh Rowan-Legg’s review, which calls the film “a superbly accomplished and riveting tale.” More:

[T]the script, performances, and deceptively complex use of long takes and drone shots make The Vast of Night one of the most accomplished films of the year, one that takes a story we think we’ve seen before, and gives us fresh eyes to see it with, and more importantly, fresh ears to hear it with.

Sheila O’Malley is just as effusive:

How on earth Patterson made a movie about a UFO hovering over a small town in the late 1950s without falling back on every cliche in the book is the fun and wonder of “The Vast of Night.” You already know the plot. You’ve seen it all before. But the way the story is told is new. With “The Vast of Night,” it really is about the how, not just the “what happens.”

Joe Lipsett isn’t quite as effusive, but he still praises the film’s aesthetic:

The most significant element of note, however, is the way The Vast of Night is shot. There are at least two separate sequences where Patterson trains his lens on his actors and just lets them act for minutes at a time (often when they are simply listening or reacting). The film may be aping the structure of an old TV series, but at its core, The Vast of Night evokes the radio dramas of the past; the kind of fantastic tales that prompted families to gather around their radio and listen late into the night.

And finally, Heather Wixson:

For me, The Vast of Night served as the perfect reminder as to why I fell in love with science fiction in the first place, and I look forward to whatever Patterson directs next, because he shows an immeasurable amount of promise as a storyteller here. Amazon recently acquired The Vast of Night, and for those of you who grew up on classic sci-fi, whether on the big or small screen, I cannot recommend this film enough. It’s something very special.

Amazon Prime Video will begin streaming The Vast of Night on May 29.

Enjoy reading Opus? Want to support my writing? Become a subscriber for just $5/month or $50/year.
Subscribe Today
Return to the Opus homepage