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.