Parents' Guide to

The Vast of Night

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Innovative filmmaking, great story in 1950s-set sci-fi tale.

Movie PG-13 2020 89 minutes
The Vast of Night Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 11+

Had promise but fell short for me

I really wanted to love this movie (it got stellar reviews, and it is clean enough for my whole family), but it was just too slow to develop for me and was a bit disjointed, with not enough payoff. The way the story was presented was clever, and the two main actors were great. But I was pretty underwhelmed. Also: We had a difficult time hearing the dialogue in the beginning, so much so that we needed to turn on captions. (For what it's worth, my husband and 13-year-old son both liked the movie.) SLIGHT SPOILER: This movie has an unresolved ending (just FYI in case your kid(s) don't do well with those).
age 14+

Really well made, great characters

I love era depicted in the movie. The innocence of the character fits well with the setting. It’s the 50’s, so there is a lot of smoking, but there isn’t any violence. Very classy sci-fi, well made and well acted.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (3 ):

An incredible debut feature, this micro-budget sci-fi movie boasts innovative, exhilarating filmmaking; clever, spooky storytelling; and layers of relevant themes. Written by James Montague and Craig W. Sanger and directed by Andrew Patterson (all first-timers), The Vast of Night is inspired in part by The Twilight Zone. It even includes a Rod Serling-like opening narration, as well as certain shots presented as if on a badly tuned, fuzzy black-and-white TV screen. Other scenes consist of impressively long traveling shots filled with rapid-fire dialogue; other long, deceptively complex takes simply resting on an actor's face; and pulse-pounding sequences of racing from one place to another as time ticks away.

The filmmakers' technical prowess and creativity in suggesting a sci-fi story using mainly sound and dialogue recalls other landmark debuts, specifically Reservoir Dogs, Pi, Following, and Primer. But the characters in The Vast of Night are also appealing and memorable. Everett is a rapid-patter, chain-smoking nerd; he's an outcast, but he's cool with that. And Fay is energetic and breathless, dreaming of her own bright future, even though -- as a woman in the '50s -- her choices are limited. The movie even manages a subtle comment on race via the phone call from Billy, a Black character who's never seen. Smarts and technical wizardry aside, the movie also tells an amazing story at just the right pace, with just the right punch. Don't miss it.

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