Late Night with the Devil Is Atmospheric, Frightening, and Remarkable

Late Night with the Devil still of June (Laura Gordon), Lilly (Ingrid Torelli), Jack (David Dastmalchian), and Carmichael (Ian Bliss) sitting in Colin Cairnes and Cameron Cairnes’ LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL.

One of the most realistic narrative intros ever, it feels like an alternate world where Jack Delroy exists along with the tragic and terrifying events.

Late Night with the Devil joins the ever-burgeoning horror subgenre of found footage. Here, it is not a random video found in the woods but a never-before-seen video of the last episode of a late-night talk show, Night Owls with Jack Delroy. With the narrator’s introduction, it’s even broader than simple found footage. It’s as though a tragedy gave way to a media expose about Jack Delroy, culminating in the show’s final episode footage. Sadly, the final act devolves too far down a fantastical rabbit hole. However, Late Night with the Devil paints a believable horror film about the voyeuristic aspect of reality viewing and rabid obsession with the macabre through a spellbinding movie.

Written and directed by Cameron and Colin Cairnes, the movie stars David Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy, a late-night talk show host struggling to attain the number one slot on Nielsen ratings. Unfortunately, his show, Night Owls with Jack Delroy, falls further and further down the rankings. Then, something occurs that changes everything. Late Night with the Devil begins where most found footage films do, at the end—told in hindsight. 

Late Night with the Devil Has Adds Amazingly Realistic Documentary Depiction to the Found Footage

David Dastmalchian in Late Night with the Devill still of Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian) leaning against a studio camera.
David Dastmalchian in Colin Cairnes and Cameron Cairnes’ LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL. Courtesy of Adam White. An IFC Films and Shudder release.

The movie makes fantastic use of the documentary aspect, wedging the found footage element firmly within it. But the special is similar to others over the years, amplifying the authenticity throughout most of the picture. The narrative voice (Michael Ironside) gives the perfect timbre to introduce viewers to this segment. Like other documentaries, it opens with a macro look at the 1970s, painting a population needing escape.   

One of the most realistic narrative intros ever, it feels like an alternate world where Jack Delroy exists along with the tragic and terrifying events. At least, one hopes so. Adding to the layer of realism, the narrator explains Jack’s struggle to compete with the legendary Johnny Carson. The flick even references the inspirations for The Conjuring series, Ed and Lorraine Warren, in the same breath as the Amityville haunting. 

Late Night with the Devil Is Tense and Uncertain

As the last segment begins, it feels like any other talk show—complete with the live studio audience and band playing music. Delroy and his team decided to make a special episode on Halloween night in 1977. This also marks the first night of ‘sweeps week’—a make-or-break week for television series. They lean into the spooky season with a medium, Christou (Fayssal Bazzi). But to add contrast they bring in a skeptic and debunker, Carmichael Haig (Ian Bliss).

They make up the first half of the segment. Late Night with the Devil eases their live audience and viewers into a sense of comfort as Christou hilariously tries and fails to strut his skill. But by the end of his bit, dread builds as something else comes through Christou. 

In the final half is the climactic demonic possession. So, parapsychologist June (Laura Gordon) and the young girl possessed by a demon, Lilly (Ingrid Torelli). Late Night with the Devil moves between a fact or fiction element, making one wonder where reality lies. Its disconcerting genuine feel elevates tension, as does Lilly’s creepy smiles as her large, innocent one moment, threatening the next eyes fixate on the camera. Throughout most of the movie, there’s discomfort and uncertainty about what will happen next.

Gripping Cast Keeps the Fear Churning

Late Night with the Devil still of Lilly (Ingrid Torelli) sitting in trance-like state while Jack (David Dastmalchian) and June (Laura Gordon) kneel beside her.
Ingrid Torelli, David Dastmalchian, and Laura Gordon in Colin Cairnes and Cameron Cairnes’ LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL. Courtesy of IFC Films and Shudder. An IFC Films and Shudder release.

The entire cast is impressive. As the lead, David Dastmalchian is outstanding in Late Night With the Devil, toeing the line between sympathetic character and suspicious. Ingrid Torelli is downright creepy. Fayssal Bazzi is hilarious as the questionable medium and perfectly transitions into terror as forces beyond him seize control. Rhys Auteri, as Jack’s right hand, Gus, shines as a voice of reason disregarded by everyone. 

Does Not Stick the Landing

Some portions go unanswered. Although most of the film is scary, uncomfortable, and fascinating, this unknown aspect harms it. While ambiguity can add to a movie, there is too much present here. One example is the anonymous thing appearing on camera that viewers hear about as one of the crew talks. Ultimately, it’s left unanswered. As the climax devolves into a fevered dream quality, where determining what’s real or not becomes a guessing game, the documentary-exposé aspect peels away. Unfortunately, the constraint helped Late Night with the Devil maintain its tension. 

Practical effects in horror always add more terror. Fortunately, here, the film shines. However, when special effects come in it pulls viewers out of the tension. In addition, the poor quality adds another layer of disbelief. Now it’s less fear and more “What is this supposed to be?” Overall, Late Night with the Devil is a fantastic start to a promising production studio. The realistic portrayal, combined with intense scenes and dynamite performances, ensures Late Night with the Devil is a welcome inclusion to the found footage pantheon, even with its shoddy, incoherent ending. 

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