THE VAST OF NIGHT – Review by Susan Granger

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If you enjoyed The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and other 1950s sci-fi anthologies, you’ll respond to this ‘episode’ of the fictional Paradox Theater TV show, beginning as a Rod Serling-like announcer intones: “You are entering a realm between clandestine and forgotten…”

In Cayuga, New Mexico – population: 492 – Fay Crocker (Sierra McCormick) is a high school student who’s excited about learning how to operate her new tape recorder. She works the nighttime shift at the town’s telephone switchboard office while listening to her pal Everett (Jake Horowitz), the fast-talking DJ at the local AM radio station WOTW.

Suddenly, a call comes in from a frantic woman reporting large objects hovering above her house, so Fay contacts Everett, who notes that WOTW’s signal is being interrupted by a mysterious audio transmission that sounds like faint, mumbling voices, punctuated by static.

When Fay subsequently hears the same unidentifiable sound on one of the switchboard lines, she patches it through to Everett, who broadcasts it, asking if any listener recognizes it.

A veteran, Billy (Bruce Davis), responds, rambling about a weird Air Force experience involving tunnels being dug at a remote desert location for an alien aircraft. Then elderly Mabel Blanche (Gail Cronauer) adds more paranormal details, repeatedly reciting an indecipherable chant in a strange language.

Co-writers James Montague (the pseudonym used by Oklahoma City director Andrew Patterson) and Craig W. Sanger, his researcher, cram far too many monologues into several scenes, slowing the momentum considerably.

Yet Patterson, working with Chilean cinematographer M.I. Littin-Menz, maintains an appealing retro ambiance, complete with Cold War suspicion about the Soviets and paranoia about UFOs carrying extra-terrestrials. But the mounting visual tension is interrupted by far too many fade-to-black sequences.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, The Vast of Night is a strange, spooky 6, streaming on Amazon Prime.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.