9. The Vast of Night (Movie, Streaming, Amazon)
This film was easily the most pleasant surprise that I’ve had watching a film since this wretched quarantine began. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, I randomly read about it one Saturday morning and watched it based on the critics reviews. On this instance, I discovered what it might be like for the casual film viewers who tune in to read my own reviews and watch something on my recommendation.
The UFO in a small town story was seemingly perfected a long time ago by Steven Spielberg and the style has been mocked or mimicked many times since. Which is why it feels so exciting to watch a wholly unique take on the genre. Almost entirely free of visual effects, this film uses a combination of writing and visual styles to get across its building wonder. The first act uses a brilliant tracking shot, along with clever dialogue, to establish the setting, mood, characters, and feel that the filmmakers seemingly intend to tell their story. Then, they throw that steady cam with heavy dialogue style out the window and settle on using a single switch board room to tell their tale.
It is at this point that the audience begins to realize that there is no set way to tell this story. Director Andrew Patterson is going to use whatever he has in his limited budget to convey the dread and wonder of what might be out there. Which is kind of like watching Spielberg play with the sharks in ‘Jaws’ or the vehicle’s mirrors in ‘Duel’. When you add a compelling group of newcomers to the proceedings, you get a hell of an entertaining trip.