‘Late Night with the Devil’ Review: Shooting up the Charts

Late Night with the Devil is a uniquely crafted satire-horror flick that solidly sets itself up as a soon-to-be Halloween staple.

Set in 1977, we follow Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian), a plucky yet jaded Late-Night host who is climbing his way up the ladder of success. The only end to this illustrious goal is to surpass long-time rival Johnny Carson. Jack has tried everything: prize wheels, magic, humiliation, and even bringing his dying wife on the show, leading to his most-watched show yet. But it still wasn’t enough to catch Carson; Jack needed more.

The film takes place on one Halloween night in 1977 as Jack makes his final effort to surpass Carson’s views and avoid being canned. Little does Jack know the price he is going to have to pay as the Devil himself enters stage left.

After a few opening minutes of narration, directors Cameron and Colin Cairnes set us free to watch it all unfold on “Night Owls with Jack Delroy”. While not entirely fulfilling, this found footage horror sets itself apart through how the presentation unfolds. We watch all the laughs – and the horror – through the eyes of the TV studio cameras, just as the audience back home would have, though the film does grant us small moments of “behind the scenes footage”, where we begin to see how desperate Jack Delroy has truly become.

Late Night with the Devil movie

The satire soon rears its head as we are introduced to the night’s beloved guests. Jack brings out a psychic (Fayssal Bazzi), a magician-turned-skeptic (Ian Bliss), and a parapsychologist (Laura Gordon) whose test subject is happily sitting alongside her. That test subject is Lilly (Ingrid Torelli), the sole survivor of a mass suicide at a Satanic Church and possessed by a demon she calls “Mr. Wiggles.” The show runs smoothly enough at first, but Jack knows he must push his guests to create the drama that will spike his views and save his show.

David Dastmalchian, as the desperate show host, is the heartbeat of Late Night with the Devil. It’s great to see him in a leading role after years of being the creepiest dude ever in a plethora of Denis Villeneuve and Christopher Nolan projects. His charming yet cynical smile is smeared across every moment. Whether he’s preparing for a commercial break or smiling away his tears, the subtle shifts Dastmalchian makes from moment to moment truly elevate every scene.

The same cannot be said for the script. The Cairnes’ created a believable environment for our characters to play in, but it never felt as if the end goal wasn’t innately clear. The heavy-handed narration in the beginning makes it clear what this film is going to deliver, and while it does deliver, it never surpasses our baseline expectations.

The atmosphere and presentations are where the film shines. The dedication to style for the late 70s talk show holds up the often-fleeting script. While it rides a fine line between satire and horror, it never excels at either, leaving the experience somewhat hollow. Late Night with the Devil isn’t going to keep you up at night or make you laugh out loud, but it will make you yearn for a time long forgotten: the wackiness of the 70s late-night television. Under the presentation of live television, it’s not often we see something that makes our stomach churn. A good blend of CGI and practical effects ensures we experience just that as gore begins to flow in the latter half.

Gore is always fun, but the true fun of the movie rises between Jack and magician-turned-skeptic Carmichael Haig. Their back and forth between what’s real and what’s fake lent itself to some of the movie’s best moments. Early on, Carmichael says he will give a $100,000 check to anyone who can prove the supernatural is real. Let’s just say he got what he paid for.

Late Night with the Devil is a unique and inventive film that never shies away from what it wants to be. While another pass-through on the script could go a long way, there is still an enjoyable time to be found watching these characters traverse this Late-Night nightmare.

Fun Fact:

Famed horror novelist Stephen King has praised the movie. He said: “I got a screener. It’s absolutely brilliant. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Your results may vary, as they say, but I urge you to watch it when you can.”

Late Night with the Devil
Late Night with the Devil is a unique and inventive satirical horror film that never shies away from what it wants to be.
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About author
Trenton Yeary is a graduate from Missouri State University with a Bachelor’s in Digital Film and Master's in Dramatic Writing. He’s recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue his love of film and popcorn. Deserted island movie collection: Any Brad Pitt movie or multiple copies of Rango (2011).


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