Tag Archives: Sierra McCormick

Life Sucks and Then Your Mom Dies

Edge of Everything

by Christie Robb

In the middle of the long transition from child to adult, high school freshman Abby (Sierra McCormick, The Vast of Night) loses her primary caregiver. Now, she has to move in with a distant father (Jason Butler Harner, Ozark) and his much younger partner and navigate her grief and the horrors of adolescence without much of a safety net.

She’s got her friends, sure—a few she seems to have known since kindergarten. They all seem smart, stable, sensible.

But they aren’t what she’s craving right now. Abby is looking for distraction and drama. And she finds it in Caroline (Ryan Simpkins, Fear Street), an underage drinker and Bad Influence willing to trade sexual favors for drugs or booze. With Caroline, Abby experiments with a new persona and new experiences, some of which veer toward the dangerous.

The film could have become a morality play, but the debut feature-length writer/director team of Sophia Sabella and Pablo Feldman aren’t here for that. Instead, they depict—without judgement—a slice of what can be a hugely complicated time in a person’s life, even when they aren’t flattened under a glacier’s worth of grief.

With its short run time, The Edge of Everything could have stood to flesh out some of the relationships and characters a bit more, particularly that between Abby and her father. But what we do have is good. McCormick delivers such a subtle, natural performance that at times it’s hard to remember you are watching an actor at work. She’s a talent to keep an eye on.


We Need to Do Something

by Hope Madden

We’ve all felt a little trapped lately. But the pandemic was completely different depending on your situation. Were you trapped and utterly alone, like Bo Burnham? Because that seemed sad and reflective, funny and inspirational and wildly successful. (See Inside if you haven’t.)

Or were you trapped with your family?

We Need to Do Something is a parable about being stuck for a long time with the people you  know best and were probably sick of in the first place. The world outside your doors offers a high possibility of death, but the world inside might be even worse.

Parable is a strong word. We Need to Do Something is a nightmare.

Mel (Sierra McCormick, The Vast of Night) made it home from her friend’s house just in time to miss the tornado. Her mom (Vinessa Shaw) ushers everyone —Mel, her little brother Bobby (John James Cronin) and their dad (Pat Healy) — into the safest room in the house, the bathroom. Here they will wait out the storm.

The storm damages the house, and they are pinned in. Days go by. Why hasn’t anyone come for them? Why is their dad such a dick? What are those noises outside the door?

Director Sean King O’Grady, working from the screenplay Max Booth III adapted from his own novella, mixes claustrophobic dread and adolescent angst with few enough contrivances that he never loses your interest.

Hints dropped early in the story come to hideous life later on (as ugly secrets sometimes do at things like family holidays and vacations or when you’re stuck for a long time in the bathroom). And though the “theater of the mind” component, piquing interest in what exactly lay outside that door, could be stronger, the performances are enough to keep your attention.

Healy, in particular, delivers a characteristically unpleasant performances, feeling very much like a trapped rat.

The hallucinogenic subplot about guilt and trauma and adolescent experimentation with pink goth suggests that the more time you spend with your parents, the more overwhelmed you’ll be by nameless shame and guilt. That feels right.

There’s no real story here. The whole film is essentially Act 2: no catalyst, no resolution. That doesn’t make for a deeply satisfying story, but it does feel a lot like the pandemic.

Long Distance Dedication

The Vast of Night

by George Wolf

The Vast of Night wastes no time in transporting you to another world.

Opening with vintage Rod Serling welcoming us to “Paradox Theatre,” director Andrew Patterson unveils an incredibly polished debut, one that’s full of meticulous craftsmanship, effective pacing and wonderfully engaging storytelling.

Picture the small town of Cayuga, New Mexico in the 1950s. As the gymnasium stands are filling up for the night’s big high school basketball matchup, a smooth-talking radio DJ and a wholesome teen have stumbled onto something very, very big.

Fay Crocker (Sierra McCormick) is filling in for the local telephone operator as WOTW’s nighttime show with Everett “The Maverick” Sloan (Jake Horowitz) playing in the background. But a strange transmission is also coming through the radio, and Fay lets Everett know about it.

Everett opens the mic to ask if any of his “five listeners” can identify the sound, and Billy (Bruce Davis) calls in with a mighty big story to tell. Mabel (Gail Cronaur) has one, too, leading Everett and Fay off into the New Mexico night to search for answers.

Peterson’s commitment to production and sound design results in a totally immersive experience. The period details – from costumes to recording equipment – are more than just historically correct. Paired with the rapid-fire, comfortably lived-in dialog from screenwriters James Montague and Craig W. Sanger, they create a throwback setting that charms without the tell of undue effort.

Peterson also flexes confidently behind the camera, moving from extended tracks to slow pans to quiet stills, all in service of the film’s wondrous tone. With McCormick and Horowitz leading a stellar ensemble, what could have been a generic sci-fi time filler becomes a smart parable with an eerie grip.

The Vast of Night is a film about listening. To each other, to the stars, to the ugly secrets of our past and to the great possibilities of our future.

And speaking of the future, Andrew Patterson has a bright one.