Late Night with the Devil (2024) | Review

A neat little package of a movie, Late Night with the Devil is comfortable horror that does its thing with gusto and nostalgic kicks.

late night with the devil poster
Source: The Movie Database

Synopsis: A struggling late night talk show host attempts to boost ratings for his Halloween special by inviting a possessed girl onto the show

Director: Cameron and Colin Cairnes
Cast: David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon, Ian Bliss, Ingrid Torelli, Rhys Auteri

A neat little package of a movie, Late Night with the Devil is comfortable horror that does its thing with gusto and nostalgic kicks.

David Dastmalchian has been my utmost "Hey look it's that guy!" ever since Harvey Dent threatened him at gunpoint in The Dark Knight. Late Night gives him some great room to work as late-night talk show host Jack Delroy, whose Night Owls with Jack Delroy is a perennial runner-up to the ratings powerhouse that was Johnny Carson and The Tonight Show. Now six seasons into his show, after attempting to dial up controversial segments and suffering through the death of his wife, Delroy needs a hit episode to save both his career. Dastmalchian is pitch-perfect for Delroy, playing him as pleasant and professional but without the confidence and charisma that would've made him equal to someone like Carson.

A scene-setting montage opens the film to establish Delroy's show and the manic atmosphere of 1970s America rife with violence, shaken institutions, public fear, and the media's role of lapping it up. It's swift enough and puts the rise of psychoanalysis and the occult front of mind ahead before shifting to the master tape and behind-the-scenes footage of the Night Owls 1977 Halloween episode.

This visual language isn't entirely consistent – we aren't given a reason why two film cameras would naturally be scooting to get black and white shots of the crew at work and the film's conclusion completely blows this natural structure out of the water – but it does keep the film's pace flowing well. The vast majority is filmed with authentic 70s TV zeal and awkwardness (certainly when it comes to camera movement). Talk show segments keep new characters rotating in without overstaying their welcome, with backstage chatter in black and white and keeping things from becoming stale.

Source: The Movie Database

So who's on Night Owls for this fateful Halloween night? First up is Fayssal Bazzi as Christou, a fairly run-of-the-mill psychic. Ian Bliss as magician-turned-sceptic Carmichael the Conjurer is much more fun. Carmichael is smarmy and rude enough for you to hate him, while logical and accomplished enough to keep his seat on Delroy's show. There is something tension-breaking in Carmichael's constant debunking of the strange events that befall the Night Owls crew – if there is a logical explanation for everything, then what the hell am I watching a movie called Late Night with the Devil for? – but when everyone else around Delroy is innocently trying to make the show a success and keep their jobs, it's nice to have someone you actively want to be harmed.

Rounding this off, and bringing the actual horror to the proceedings, are Dr. June Ross-Mitchell (Laura Gordon) and her possessed subject Lilly (Ingrid Torelli). Both are solid performances, with Torelli blank-staring into the studio cameras every chance she gets. Lilly's tie to a supernatural spirit named 'Mr Wriggles' is a little pedestrian and may limit a serious horror fan's enjoyment of the film, but some cracking practical effects and a mad dollop of cult weirdness into the film means there's still enough to enjoy.

DELROY: Ladies and gentlemen, please stay tuned for a live television first, as we attempt to commune with the devil. But not before a word from our sponsors.

Late Night with the Devil is begging to be the first half of a midnight double bill. The Brothers Cairnes know the film's lane, utilise its gimmick to the fullest, and have carved out a nice slow burn of terror. It feels more like a great episode of TV than a movie you should rush to, but a lot worse has been made with bigger stars and budgets. Throw this one on and enjoy yourself.

Source: YouTube