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FILM REVIEW: Late Night With the Devil (2023)

Late Night With The Devil - New Release Review


Director: Cameron Cairnes, Colin Cairnes

Starring: David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon, Ingrid Torelli, Ian Bliss, Rhys Auteri


Written by: Colin Cairnes, Cameron Cairnes

Produced by: Derek Dauchy, Mat Govoni, Roy Lee, John Molloy, Steven Schneider, Adam White, David Dastmalchian

Cinematography by: Matthew Temple

Original Score by: Roscoe James Irwin, Glenn Richards


Synopsis:

A live television broadcast in 1977 goes horribly wrong, unleashing evil into the nation's living rooms.


Late Night with the Devil Film Review

Thoughts:

Every so often a horror film comes along that just completely captivates its audience in a new and exciting way and somewhat in the same vein as the 1992 BBC classic 'Ghostwatch', Colin and Cameron Cairnes' devilishly funny and twisted late 1970s Halloween broadcast will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.



Jack Delroy (the fantastic David Dastmalchian) is the host of a late night television chat show called Night Owls that has slowly been gaining steam. As Jack's celebrity status increases, his viewership languishes in second place behind the great Johnny Carson and Jack can almost taste the top spot. But just as he and his network ready themselves to become number one, tragedy strikes as the love of his life is sadly diagnosed with terminal cancer.


Jack's personal life spirals out of control which subsequently affects his performance as a television show host and after his wife passes away, the ratings plummet to the point where the show is almost ready to be taken off the air. But Jack has a plan for his Halloween Special just in time for the sweeps that includes spotlighting a psychic who can commune with the dead and interviewing a young girl, a mass suicide survivor, who has now seemingly been possessed by a satanic demon, maybe even the Devil himself. For balance Jack has also invited Carmichael Haig, an infamous TV magician and hypnotist turned skeptic, to join the panel, who proves to be very argumentative and determined to reveal the other guests as simple frauds.


One thing is for certain, by the time the show ends nobody involved will ever be the same again.


David Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy in Late Night with the Devil

'Late Night with the Devil' is one of the best horror films I've seen in a long time, mainly due to the performances from the main cast. Dastmalchian is riveting as the charismatic host who is clearly bottling up some deep, dark emotional turmoil. Rhys Auteri as his sidekick Gus and Laura Gordon as the psychologist are both mesmerising in very different ways. Big shout out to Ingrid Torelli who plays Lilly, the young girl harbouring a demon inside her body, or Mr. Wiggles as she calls it.


With the exception of a very impressive narrated introduction (by the one and only Michael fucking Ironside) which highlights "unrest and mistrust" prevalent in the US at the time, the entire film plays out in real time like actual footage from a real 1970s era late night television show, cutting to "behind the scenes" footage during the commercial breaks. Aesthetically, it looks and feels super authentic and it really captures the ambience to a tee without it being too cheesy. The set and production design is gorgeous. There's not too many scares early on and the film actually has a very playful tone which reels you and keeps you on edge and there's always a lingering sense of dread that something horrific is gonna happen at any minute.



Jack's idea to centre the Halloween Special show around possession and the occult proves to be an intelligent and inspiring one as the first segment featuring a psychic by the name of Christou leaves the studio audience in silent disbelief. And things pick up to an insane level when Lilly is introduced in the second half of the episode. Her mere presence and strange and often whimsical looks into the camera were giving me onset anxiety and the constant nihilism from a brutally stubborn Carmichael Haig (Ian Bliss), who is a world renowned group hypnotist, is frustrating but fun nonetheless and adds even more tension to an already taut and threateningly, unhinged watch.



I won't give way any blatant spoilers but 'Late Night with the Devil' is such a refreshing new entry into the (sort of) found footage sub-genre that pays homage to 70s classics like 'The Exorcist' and even 'The King of Comedy'. It addresses the obsessive nature of television and its audience in a satirical way. However, as thrilling as it is, it could very well have all fallen to bits if not for the incredible, melancholic performance of David Dastmalchian, who finally gets to escape from under the "supporting actor" umbrella and step down stage so to speak into the big and bright lights. His portrayal is enigmatic and engaging and he can do so much with his eyes and a faint smirk on his lips.


David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon, Ian Bliss & Ingrid Torelli in Late Night with the Devil

There will be talking points about the finale and whether the Cairnes should've conformed to the more obvious found footage type ending but I found it all highly entertaining and exhilarating from the opening scene. This one will be hard to beat and the Australian brothers will definitely be on every horror fans radar in the future.


Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


-Gavin Logan


'Late Night With The Devil' will be released in UK Cinemas March 22nd

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