Late Night with the Devil Review


There’s something comforting in the fact that, despite living in an era where technology exists to make movies look as clean and slick as possible, one of the most popular and enduring subgenres in the horror pantheon is the found footage flick. There’s just something about grainy, out of focus, and decidedly frenetic storytelling that pushes all the right buttons, both in terms of creepiness and nostalgia.

Late Night with the Devil, the latest offering from Australia’s Cairnes brothers, presents itself as unearthed footage of “the broadcast that shocked a nation,” where one late night variety show host in the late ’70s got more than he bargained for in attempting to put on a one-of-a-kind Halloween episode in order to boost his failing ratings. The results are often hilarious and ultimately terrifying.

David Dastmalchian Fully Embraces the Role

David Dastmalchian in The Boogeyman
20th Century Studios

David Dastmalchian has become a well-known character actor for eccentric supporting roles. Case in point, he’s played a troubled henchman to the Joker, Batman’s infamous Batman foe, on no less than two occasions, and he most recently unsettled audiences playing the disturbed therapy patient in The Boogeyman (pictured above). But in Late Night with the Devil, Dastmalchian tones down his usual eccentricities for the lead role as Jack Delroy, a charismatic ’70s talk show host who dreams of overtaking Jonny Carson and becoming the number one name in late-night TV.

Related: These Are the Weirdest Talk Shows of All Time

Delroy, who at one time was on track to becoming the biggest talk show host, is funny and charming enough Though, for whatever reason, he just can’t manage to achieve ratings nirvana, and in fact, his popularity is sinking to the point where he’s in danger of being phased out entirely. His personal life has also been marred by a tragedy, as his beloved wife has recently passed away after a grueling fight with cancer. The pair were billed as one of the greatest couples in show business.

After disappearing for a while, presumably to grieve the loss, Jack is back on TV and he has a plan. He and his team have put together one hell of a Halloween show, and they’re putting all their chips on this being the one to put them on top once and for all.

A Who’s Who of ’70s Late Night Homages

Lilly Late night with the devil
Spooky Pictures
Image Nation

Their guests for the evening are a rogues’ gallery of classic talk show archetypes from a bygone era. There’s the psychic, played by Fayssal Bazzi, who can commune with the spirits of the dead, as long as someone in the audience (anyone, please?) is willing to latch on to whatever letter or vague name he may throw out at a given moment. There’s the psychiatrist (Laura Gordon) who claims her patient is possessed by a demon, and of course, there’s the immovable skeptic (Ian Bliss), willing to pay top dollar to anyone who can prove that the supernatural exists.

As the evening’s proceedings begin to unravel and the staff, crew, and guests become more and more nervous, Jack is determined to see the program through to the end. Within the film’s modest runtime, Dastmalchian runs the full gamut of emotions. He hits notes of excitement, tenderness, fear, guilt, and sadness, often without so much as muttering a single word, letting his face beautifully carry the moment.

Of course, when he is talking, he’s charming the pants off of the audience, both in his fictional world and in today’s world for anyone watching the film. It’s clear that the filmmakers went to great pains to recreate every aspect of a typical late night show, right down to the oily charms of its host. Jack also carries some dark secrets with him, and he’s not the only one. Everyone is implied to have a sordid past, with the worst being young Lilly, purported to have been rescued from a Satanic cult (see if you can spot any similarities to real world cases of so-called satanic ritual abuse).

Related: Best Horror Movies With Creepy Kids, Ranked

Speaking of Lilly, from the moment Ingrid Torelli is brought on screen as the character, she is instantly terrifying. There’s plenty else to give audiences the heebie-jeebies in Late Night with the Devil, but even though she has comparatively low screen time, her uncaring smile and disconnected gaze may be the scariest part of the whole movie.

The Film’s Ending Is Dizzying, Heartbreaking, Disturbing, and Masterful

late night with the devil david dastmalchian
Spooky Pictures
Image Nation

As the film rockets toward its dizzying climax, it becomes more and more difficult to differentiate between the “real” and the hallucinatory. This, of course, is on purpose. Late Night with the Devil makes brilliant use of practical effects to create truly brutal sequences, and then takes the bold choice of making you question whether what you saw was really what you saw, or simply a trick of the mind. And it works every time.

The final moments are equal parts disturbing and heartbreaking, and they may be some of the most moving ever given to us by a found footage horror movie.

Late Night With the Devil has been making appearances at various film festivals, and was recently shown at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, which is where this review originated from. Make sure to watch this space for more information regarding the film’s wide release.

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