Late Night with the Devil
Photograph: Vertigo Releasing
  • Film
  • Recommended


Late Night With the Devil

4 out of 5 stars

A ’70s talk show plays host to this diabolically brilliant found-footage horror

Phil de Semlyen

Time Out says

If we’re living in a new golden age of horror, then David Dastmalchian is its Christopher Lee. With his sallow countenance, laconic elegance, and general air of a man who sleeps in a crypt, the actor brings a note of eeriness to everything he does.

So often an eye-catching side act in blockbusters like The Suicide Squad, Oppenheimer and Dune, he gets the perfect vehicle in this sinister, wickedly clever found-footage horror that purports to have been a real broadcast in 1977 America.

Instead of a creaking coffin, it’s a creaking late-night chat show that’s trapping Dastmalchian’s host, Jack Delroy. Once a relatively successful Johnny Carson wannabe, he’s suffering from plummeting ratings and a lack of fresh ideas. The recent death of his young wife adds a layer of existential despair that he hides behind a forced smile and some lame patter with his band leader.

Halloween night, though, may be his salvation. As his fancy-dress-clad audience watches on, he introduces a parapsychologist (Laura Gordon) and a young Satanic cult survivor suffering – supposedly – from demonic possession. No one’s had a demon on a chat show before – not even prime Carson – so this could be the break he’s been looking for.  A sceptic of the paranormal (Ian Bliss, supremely pompous) is invited on ‘for balance’. 

This wonderfully creepy horror is like Alan Partridge by way of The Exorcist

The studio itself makes a really effective setting for this one-location horror – a deceptively beige environment where cameras, lights and various moving parts all add a terrifying momentum to events. Life-or-death decisions need to be made in two-minute ad breaks while make-up people do incongruous touch ups.

Aussie filmmaking siblings Cameron and Colin Cairnes keep some cards up their sleeves for the movie’s wild climax, too, as well as a few clever ideas about the Faustian nature of celebrity and mass media that nod to Network, Scanners and The King of Comedy. Even as gory carnage is unfolding in front of him, Delroy’s mind is still on the ratings.

It’s wonderfully creepy and unnervingly familiar, like Alan Partridge by way of The Exorcist. If that doesn’t automatically enter it into the pantheon of classic midnight movies, I don’t know what does.

In US and UK cinemas Mar 22.

Cast and crew

  • Director:Colin Cairnes, Cameron Cairnes
  • Screenwriter:Colin Cairnes, Cameron Cairnes
  • Cast:
    • David Dastmalchian
    • Laura Gordon
    • Ian Bliss
    • Ingrid Torelli
    • Rhys Auteri
You may also like
You may also like