In the late 1950s, small town life had a slower pace, more of a sense of community. The entire town would attend the local high school basketball game, for instance. And while almost everyone is gathered in one place, strange things might happen in the quiet streets.
16-year-old Fay is covering the telephone switchboard while listening to her friend, Everett, broadcast his radio show. A strange noise on the line, a stranger call to the show… this small town in New Mexico has seen odd things before.
I liked this movie on several levels, but my first observation – and warning – would have to be that it is slow. It’s not a bad thing, and in fact fits the time period and sense of a slower kind of living very well. The evocation of the 1950s is excellently done, overtly with the old-time tech (switchboards, radio equipment, etc) and a little more subtly with just the way of life portrayed – community, trust. With no big ‘names’ in the cast, it’s all impressively acted, too.
As the mysteries unfold, the sense of unease is done very well, too. That’s increased with some fascinating cinematography. Drone camerawork gives a long, low-level sweep through the town, before cutting to watching our characters as if on a very, very old tv set. The screen frequently goes black, too. It’s a bit creepy, in a good way.
The story is not unfamiliar, and indeed there are myriad nods to things like The Twilight Zone, War of the Worlds, and even a bit of an X-Files vibe going on. Indeed, I could see this being an episode of that show – but, with more understated elegance. But while it might be a story that’s been done before, I like the attempt at telling it in a different way. That plus the experimental visuals make this a highly intriguing bit of cinema.
Still, I’m a little on the fence. It remains quite slow, mysteries aren’t necessarily answered – or, maybe shouldn’t have been? – and I’d recommend that you do have to be in the right mood for that, and for a little style and atmosphere over substance.
Released: 29th May 2020
Viewed: 17th July 2020
Running time: 91 minutes
My rating: 7.5/10