Late Night with the Devil

‘Late Night with the Devil’ Review: A Haunting and Original Experience

David Dastmalchian’s 70’s talk show host invites Satan on live TV!

Found-footage horror has been done to ‘death’ ever since 1999’s The Blair Witch Project. It has become a staple of the horror genre over the last 25 years, and can often feel overdone. Yet, Late Night with the Devil feels remarkably unique. Its intelligent slow buildup, gives way to moments of absolute chaos and gore, before concluding to a striking ending.

David Dastmalchian’s face is instantly recognizable, having appeared in a variety of roles. With his sunken features and a smile tinged with darkness, he’s often been typecast into creepy characters over the years. In Late Night with the Devil, he takes on his first leading role as the upbeat late-night host, Jack Delroy, and he delivers brilliantly. This performance proves that Dastmalchian is more than capable of being a leading man.

Late Night with the Devil
Image Credit: IFC Films Shudder

During a prelude, it’s established that Jack Delroy has taken his show “Night Owls with Jack Delroy” to the heights of the late-night talk-show ladder, but he’s never claimed the top slot and as things begin to slide he takes a sinister turn in a bid for ratings. In a desperate move on his Halloween special, he resolves to tempt fate by communing with unknown forces live on air.

The film unfolds through two narratives: the on-stage action, in color and with a 4:3 ratio, where Jack hosts the show with a forced charisma and enthusiasm for the supernatural; and the backstage action, supposedly captured by a handheld camera in a documentary-style, depicted in black and white. Here, we witness a visibly more stressed Jack, as he clashes with his staff and production team, as the show gradually unravels and spirals out of control. This is where the limitations of found-footage movies come into play, leaving you wondering who is filming the backstage bickering and why.

Late Night with the Devil
Image Credit: IFC Films Shudder

What begins as comedic silliness quickly plunges into unimaginable darkness for Jack as the show kicks off with bumbling psychic Christou (Fayssal Bazzi) communicating with deceased relatives of audience members. To counterbalance, skeptic Carmichael (Haig Ian Bliss), a former magician turned skeptic, enters the fray, offering $100,000 to anyone who can substantiate the supernatural. Topping the bill is parapsychologist Dr. June Ross-Mitchell (Laura Gordon), whose latest book explores a mass suicide at a Satanic church. Naturally, she’s accompanied by the sole survivor of the tragic incident: Lilly (Ingrid Torelli), a polite, yet strange teenage girl who claims she’s occasionally possessed by a demon she’s named “Mr. Wiggles.”

Most of all, I really have to praise David Dastmalchian he utterly commands the stage.

Written and directed by Cameron Cairnes and Colin Cairnes, they have impressively recreated the style and atmosphere of a 1970s talk show. And throughout the film, they expertly build the tension, primarily through Jack’s right-hand man, Gus McConnell (Rhys Auteri), whose mounting fear intensifies as things spiral into a satanic nightmare of fear and gore.

Late Night with the Devil
Image Credit: IFC Films Shudder

The first half of the film unfolds as a bizarre, campy joke, with Jack hamming it up for the audience and everyone having a great time. However, we’re struck with a real punch at the halfway mark with a super gory sequence: Gus revealing his worst fear, which then gruesomely mutilates his body in a sickening way. Suddenly, you’re confronted with the unpredictability of the film—a bit of an “oh, shit” moment—and the tone shifts to a more serious note for the remainder of the film. It’s a true gem of a horror film.

Most of all, I really have to praise Dastmalchian. He utterly commands the stage, having mastered the mannerisms of a talk show host. The subtleties, like the way he clasps his hands and shifts his tone, his play to the camera, all reflect the traits of a seasoned host. He has expertly crafted Jack Delroy,  you can tell he has put in the work. As things go awry on stage, his face is a mix of anxiety and pain, and the confusion and fear in his eyes as the film concludes speak volumes about his talent. It’s a stellar performance, and will leave you asking the question: would you sell your soul for success?

Late Night with the Devil is now available to watch on Shudder on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and US.

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