“There’s something in the sky!”
The summer of the pandemic has seen the release of a number of spectacular low budget, indie horror films. Perhaps the best of these is The Vast of Night created by a television commercial producer living in Oklahoma, Andrew Patterson. The film is another example of the benefits of persistence by a filmmaker. In the case of The Vast of Night, it was rejected by a number of film festivals before it was accepted at Slamdance.
According to the director Andrew Patterson, the film came out of one of the ideas he had the previous ten years, which simply said: “1950s black and white. New Mexico, UFO landing.” Patterson wrote the script with Craig Sangerfinanced the film himself with earnings from his work producing commercials and shorts for the and others.
It is filmed in the style of a ‘Paradox Theatre’ episode, an anthology television series like The Twilight Zone. The film stars Sierra McCormick as Fay and Jake Horowitz as Everett. It is set in the 1950s, in Cayuga, New Mexico and opens with a basketball match between the town’s team and their rivals. Everett is a radio show host covering the match. His friend, Fay, on the other hand, is a switchboard operator.
The Local Radio Station
Fay sits at an old switchboard answering calls by pulling cords and plugging them into connections in the switchboard. She is alone as almost all the other people in town are at the big basketball game. A frantic woman calls in saying “There’s something in the sky.” Fay hears strange sounds over the telephone. She runs to the radio station to tell her friend Everett about the sounds.
So begins a film from a director we are sure to hear much more from over the next years. To say anymore would only spoil and incredible film that has to be seen more then reviewed. The phrase “There’s something in the sky” echoes throughout the film. As one reviewer says, it feels like it’s the first time those words have ever been said, making a moment that could have been a cliche into “something fresh, vivid, filled with the strangeness of what it would really be like.”
Fay & Everett Trying to Decipher the Strange Sounds
Patterson made a movie about a UFO hovering over a small town in the late 1950s. He made this without using cliches that have become attached to these early science fiction films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Thing. The viewers have seen many of this genre of film before, they already know the plot. Yet there is a newness about the film. Not just for the viewer but for Fay and Everett.
Yes, there has been the first UFO events around Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 almost a decade before the events of this film in the late 50s. But the beauty of The Vast of the Night is the innocence of the first encounter with UFOs by two teenagers almost a decade later. They are truly experiencing the beginning of a long tradition of mythology and conspiracy theories. It is the genius of Andrew Patterson that makes the modern viewer, full of this mythology and conspiracy theories over seventy years, experience this event for the first time.
Yes, there’s something in the sky. More than UFOs though, that something in the sky is the brilliance of a new arrival on the film scene.