Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Vast of Night

Presented as something very similar to an episode from the original Twilight Zone, The Vast of Night offers a glimpse into a non-descript small town on a night when almost all are gathered for a high school basketball game and only a scattered few become aware of odd goings on in the night sky. The small town, set in the 1950s, focused on radio and reel-to-reel recordings, sets just the right mood for story which will slowly unfold. Self-financed, the low-budget film from writer/director Andrew Patterson is something to behold as it slowly builds before earning its final shot.

Our main characters are the night telephone operator Fay Crocker (Sierra McCormick) and her friend and local disc jokey Everett Sloan (Jake Horowitz) who become aware of an odd signal broadcasting across phone and radio lines. Putting the sound on the radio, in hopes others might be able to identify it sends the pair down a rabbit hole starting with the story of a soldier (Bruce Davis) about top secret military projects and including the account of an elderly shut-in (Gail Cronauer) forcing both characters to question what they believe.

The Vast of Night is marvelous, both in structure and style as it recreates not only the look and feel of 50s Americana but also how that would appear through the lens of The Twilight Zone (or, as it's presented here "Paradox Theater"). Many have tried to create the feel and texture of the original Twilight Zone, but none have done so as well as Patterson does here (with a bit of War of the Worlds thrown in for good measure). Patterson's dialogue is sharp and quick, so much so that you may want to watch with the subtitles turned on. And he knows how to set the mood and then slowly build tension from our character's growing curiosity to eventual fear. While it may not answer all of the questions it asks over the course of its short run-time, it answers more than enough while allowing the audience's imagination to fill in the gaps and glance cautiously up at the sky in wonder and apprehension.

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