The Vast of Night
Radio DJ Everett and switchboard operator Fay have discovered something strange. While connecting calls, Fay notices a curious sound interrupting the line: part static, part Morse code. Not sure what it is, she calls her friend Everett’s radio show to ask his advice. Needless to say, they uncover more than they could have expected.
Everett is the local DJ (broadcasting to five listeners) in small-town New Mexico. It is the fifties and he is called on to help with all manner of local technical difficulties. Fay has recently acquired a tape recorder which Everett helps her to use. They interview various nonplussed locals sitting in their Chevrolets eating burgers.
After hearing the weird sound they hit upon the ingenious solution of broadcasting it on Everett’s radio show, hoping someone can help and promising a piece of Elvis’s carpet as a prize. Sure enough, a man calling himself Billy calls in with a strange tale involving the US army, secret operations, aircraft hidden under sheets, and unexplained deaths. After Billy hangs up, an old lady called Mabel calls and promises to tell the whole story if they will come to her house and hear it. On the way there are reports of sightings in the night sky.
Set very firmly in the tradition of The Twilight Zone by way of Close Encounters and Stranger Things, there is something reassuringly familiar about all of this. Fay and Everett make an enjoyably smart-aleck couple as they solve their mystery together. The atmosphere is evocative late-night, small-town America – all cicadas, porches, and unlocked doors. The production design is excellent – everyone looks and sounds the part.
Despite a convincingly strange aura and well-handled tension, The Vast of Night never quite delivers on its set-up. A framing device implies that we are watching an episode of sci-fi television, and unfortunately this film never feels much more than an extended episode. Nevertheless, it is a convincing and enjoyable pastiche aimed at fans of the genre.
The Vast of Night is released digitally on Amazon Prime on 29th May 2020.
Watch the trailer for The Vast of Night here: