It begins with a strange noise.
Set in Fifties New Mexico on a seemingly normal night, switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) is working late and listening to her friend DJ Everett (Jake Horowitz)’s radio show when she hears a strange noise over Everett’s transmission. She then hears the same noise over the switchboard, followed by some frantic calls by the locals who are reporting seeing some strange things in the sky. Spurned on by her own love of science, Fay and Everett (who is looking for a good story for his show) seek out the origins of the strange noise and uncover some long-forgotten (or covered up?) secrets.
The Vast Of Night is the debut feature film from director Andrew Patterson and if this story sounds like an episode of The Twilight Zone you’d be spot on with that assessment. Patterson proudly shows classic sci-fi show influences for all to see, framing the film as if it was a TV episode from the time period (in a show named ‘Paradox Theater’). This sets the film’s unsettling vibe from the beginning – a vibe that Patterson maintains throughout with muted colours, a slow build-up and long conversations between characters.
In fact, it’s this focus on characters that ensures engagement throughout the film. The Vast Of Night is primarily framed around a series of stories from a myriad of characters (some of who we never even see), showing confidence from the director to build up tension through a string of conversations rather than big set pieces. Until the final act that is, when the silent questions and fragmented stories culminate in an urgent and satisfying ending for a story such as this.
This is all helped by the central chemistry-laden performances, most notably from McCormick who’s amiable take on the curious Fay lends plausibility to a film firmly rooted in the abnormal.
A classic and clever sci-fi tale, The Vast Of Night confidently takes us to the fifth dimension.
The Vast of Night is available to stream now on Amazon Prime.