Late Night With The Devil Review

Late Night With The Devil
Late-night chat-show host Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian) is desperate for a ratings bump as his show comes up for renewal. But his plans for an eerie Halloween line-up get a little too dark…

by Helen O’Hara |
Published on

What price Hollywood? The lures of fame, and the desperate lengths to which people will go to achieve or maintain it, are the focus of this remarkably effective found-footage horror from directing brothers Cameron and Colin Cairnes. A sort of cross between Network and The Exorcist, it’s a portrait of venality and possible demonology in late-night TV.

Late Night With The Devil

A lengthy prelude establishes that Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian) has climbed almost to the top of the late-night talk-show ladder but is beginning to slip back down the ratings. Increasingly using controversy to goose his numbers, he turns a Halloween episode into a parade of supposedly paranormal encounters — but finds more than he bargained for among his guests. This is the long-lost tape of that show, and by the end it’s clear why it might have been sealed away, ideally surrounded by crucifixes on some sort of hallowed ground.

This is a truly chilling success with shades of the real-life tragedy of 2016’s Christine as well as Friedkin’s horror classic.

Dastmalchian has frequently been cast in creepy roles, from The Dark Knight to Ant-Man (even as a good guy in the latter, he’s a goth), but he makes a convincing fist here as an aw-shucks Midwestern charmer, the sort of gentle kidder who American audiences might indeed invite into their homes each night. Still, his background of villainy serves on a meta level to make you wonder whether, perhaps, he’s gone too far in his attempts to challenge Johnny Carson. Next to Laura Gordon’s wary but fame-hungry psychiatrist and Ian Bliss’ sceptic, he seems stable — but he’s teetering. Ingrid Torelli also does remarkable work as the allegedly possessed teenager brought onto the show, maintaining eye contact with the camera far longer than is comfortable.

The limitations of the found-footage format do rear their head: you sometimes wonder who was shooting and why during the hissed conversations backstage during commercial breaks. The prelude is also too informative, tipping the film’s hand to later developments, and the admission that the film used AI art for its TV show’s intertitles is also disappointing given its otherwise impressive recreation of the ’70s talk-show setting. But otherwise, this is a truly chilling success with shades of the real-life tragedy of 2016’s Christine as well as Friedkin’s horror classic. The Cairnes build and sustain the tension remarkably well, finally letting loose in a gory but satisfying ending.

A smart, original approach makes this much more than just another Exorcist wannabe. You’ll sense that there are horrors coming, but you still won’t quite feel ready.
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