LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL: A Fantastic Mix of Possession and Found Footage Horror

Somehow, I missed the opportunity to watch this highly anticipated horror film at SXSW, where it premiered and impacted its audiences. Before the festival, however, I was aware of this movie and highly anticipated its release. Thankfully, I was allowed to review the film through a digital screener and can honestly attest that Late Night With The Devil is a fantastic horror cinema that can be enjoyed in a theater with an enthusiastic audience or within the comfort of one’s home.

As I just stated, the film is a found footage movie that is supposed to be the lost master tape of a controversial and scandalous late-night talk show in the 1970s that shows a live case of demonic possession and the aftermath of such. In this world, Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian) hosts a midnight variety and talk show that hopes to compete with Carson’s The Tonight Show. Though Delroy has his fans and followers, the program has struggled during its run to achieve competitive ratings. Delroy and his crew decide to begin featuring more controversial and sensational material in their show in a desperate attempt to gain better ratings.

On Halloween night in 1977, Delroy and his producers plan an exciting and decidedly dark program to attract more attention. This episode features the entertaining antics of supposed psychic Christou (Fayssal Bazzi), the explanations and denouncing of former magician-turned-skeptic Carmichael the Conjurer (Ian Bliss), and a live presentation of a supposedly real case of possession involving a young girl named Lily (Ingrid Torelli).

Written and directed by Cameron and Colin Cairnes, Late Night With The Devil is a tremendous horror film that works wonderfully well. The Cairnes and their crew do an excellent job of recreating the late-night talk show experience of the 1970s while also incorporating elements of the Satanic scare of the 1980s. The cinematography, set design, costumes, and effects work their magic. Aesthetically, this movie looks extraordinary, and the script is definitely solid and inspired.

The Cairnes brothers’ writing obviously has a great handle on the climate of the era, including the upcoming climate that would lead to the Satanic panic of the 1980s. What makes this movie work so well is how superbly it builds tension and suspense. The audience knows things are going to go badly, but the mixture of humor and reality holds things at bay for the big finish at the end.

The cast assembled for the movie is outstanding, and David Dastmalchian gets the opportunity to shine so brightly. Ian Bliss is also exceptional as the magician-turned-denouncer Carmichael. I was also impressed with the acting of Rhys Auteri who portrays Jack’s sidekick/Ed McMahon, Gus. Also outstanding are the performances of Laura Gordon as Dr. June Ross-Mitchell, the parapsychologist studying Lilly, and, of course, Ingrid Torelli as Lilly.

As I stated previously, I enjoyed this movie as a screener in my home, and this actually works, given that it is supposed to be a tape of a lost TV talk show. Still, as with all great horror, this would definitely be enjoyed in a theater, with an audience hungry for horror excitement. Late Night With The Devil is now playing in select theaters and will also be available for streaming on Shudder.

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