REVIEW: THE VAST OF NIGHT attempts to channel the spirit of The Twilight Zone with mixed results.


First-time director Andrew Patterson utilizes innovative cinematography and production design to make this low-budget period piece seem like a much bigger film, but the film’s methodic pacing makes it a very slow burn.

As THE VAST OF NIGHT gets underway, it builds up some excitement with its opening for dedicated genre fans. The film is presented as part of a fictional TV series called PARADOX THEATER with more than passing resemblance to THE TWILIGHT ZONE, including its very familiar-sounding voice-over credits narration. Unfortunately, those expecting a Monkey’s Paw like dark parable will likely be disappointed; as THE VAST OF NIGHT largely plays more of an homage to something like a radio drama with a very slow and methodical path toward its inevitable denouement.

THE VAST OF NIGHT follows two teenagers over the span of one night in the town of Cayuga. There’s Fay (Sierra McCormick), the town’s local phone operator, and Everett (Jake Horowitz), a DJ at the town’s local radio station. As most of the town is at a local basketball game, Fay is listening to Everett’s show and hears a strange sound she can’t identify. Fay ropes Everett into playing it on his show after finding dead-ends in investigating it and a caller named Billy comes in with an out-of-this-world theory that ropes the two into investigating something they never expected.

The film’s biggest strengths come from its innovative shooting style. The film follows its characters and the town itself through long swooping Steadicam shots, giving you a layout of the character’s town and the lives of the people within it. This really unique cinematography, when paired with a great period score reminiscent of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone makes the film very immersive coupled with the film’s intense conversation-driven staging. But while immersive, the film’s biggest problem is that the story itself is kind of small in scope. Especially the scene with Everett interviewing Billy about his thoughts pon the noise, which almost plays like listening to an extended phone call on something like Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell. A lot of how you take the film in depends on whether you can be immersed in a slow burn style of storytelling. In some sense the film is predictable, but it owes it’s storytelling to something like a serialized drama or a classic film like Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby, where the denouement seems somewhat obvious, but the performances are what keeps you there. Sometimes they do, other times, not so much. That being said, while the film might’ve worked better for this reviewer as a short, its a great example of a film that takes its negatives in terms of budget and makes up for that lack of resource to use creativity to make the scope of the film’s world bigger.

THE VAST OF NIGHT utilizes technical expertise to make a small story bigger than its wake, with innovative technique and production design. For fans of retro genre pieces, it should make for some great comfort viewing but may prove a bit more of a problematic view for those who have issues with methodical film pacing.