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Late Night with the Devil review: A hugely fun Satan satire
Photo: © ANP

Late Night with the Devil review: A hugely fun Satan satire

Late Night with the Devil review: A hugely fun Satan satire
Photo: © ANP

Late Night with the Devil is a bit of an enigma in that it gained enormous critical traction so long before its eventual release, as it premiered almost a year ago.

Written and directed by Australian siblings Cameron and Colin Cairnes, the movie is set to be one of the horror hits of 2024 as it is a hugely fun and entertaining time at the cinema.

The official premise reads:

'Presented in a found footage style, David Dastmalchian stars as Jack Delroy, the host of a fictional 1970s variety and late-night talk show titled Night Owls with Jack Delroy. The film purports to be derived from a rediscovered master tape of an episode from the show's sixth season, broadcast on Halloween 1977; during this live television broadcast, havoc unfolds when Delroy interviews a parapsychologist and the subject of her recent book, a young teenager who was the sole survivor of a Satanic church's mass suicide.'

It stars Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon, Ian Bliss, Fayssal Bazzi, Ingrid Torelli, Rhys Auteri, Georgina Haig and Josh Quong Tart.

Horror master Stephen King has already provided his seal of approval, as he said of Late Night with the Devil: "Absolutely brilliant, I couldn't take my eyes off it..."

The film will be theatrically released on 22 March, 2024 and will be available on Shudder on 19 April, 2024.

Here's what MovieMeter thought of the movie...

Late Night with the Devil review

Late Night with the Devil premiered almost an entire year before its theatrical release as it was featured at SXSW in March of 2023.

While the wait may have hurt other movies, it has;t hurt this one, as there have been rumours and rumblings about how good this new horror from the Aussie filmmakers is. Australia, of course, is the new talk of HorrorTown following recent hits like Talk to Me and Sissy.

A major contributor to this was the OUSTANDING trailer which featured just enough horror and plenty of the 1970s talk show setting. It was perfect to relay the setting and the plot.

As the movie starts, we get a husky voiceover and the eagle-eared among you will realise that it is Michael Ironside talking through the life and career of talk show star Jack Delroy.

Late Night with the Devil
3.30 (149)

Late Night with the Devil (2023)

October 31, 1977. Jack Delroy's "Night Owls" talk show has long been a friend and companion of insomniacs across the country. But a year after Jack's wife's tragic death, the show's ratings have plummeted. In an effort to save the show and his career, Jack has planned a special Halloween episode with special guests, including Lilly D'Abo. She would be possessed by the demon Abraxas and live on television they want to try to get the evil entity out of Lilly. When the cameras roll, everything spirals out of control.

Directed by: Cameron Cairnes and Colin Cairnes
Stars: David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon and Ian Bliss

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Though successful, Jack is perennially in the shadow of famous American host Johnny Carson, while he suffers tragedy in his personal life, too, following the death of his wife after a lost battle with cancer.

The show is all that Jack has now, and he will do anything to boost those ratings and finally topple Carson. This leads him and his producer to book a flamboyant medium who claims he can speak to the dead (Christou), a skeptic who is on a mission to prove that such phenomena aren't real (Carmichael the Conjurer) and, most crucially, a girl (Lilly) occasionally possessed by a demon as well as her doctor and guardian Dr. June Ross-Mitchell, who may or may not be having a relationship with Jack.

The story is told mostly in a found footage format, but doubters of that particular genre can take solace from the fact that, as the found footage is mostly from a television show, the shaky camera work is at a minimum.

When the cameras are rolling, we see what the audience at home saw back in the 1970s, while when they stop, we are given some never-before-seen behind-the-scenes footage, which gives us a better insight into Jack's mental state and motivations.

This is a short(ish) movie so things start to go bonkers fairly quickly, starting with Christou's meltdown. He may or may not be a true psychic, but he has the ability thrust upon him whether he likes it or not.

Sh*t really hits the fan when Jack begs June to do a life demonstration of Lilly's possession. What follows is a quite impeccable bit of acting from the cast's youngest star Ingrid Torelli, who plays Lilly.

Somehow, she manages to look angelic and demonic both at the same time. Her looks at the camera are bone-chilling, yet you can't help but smirk at the demon having fun terrorising everyone. It represents the smirk that would undoubtedly have been on the face of everyone involved in the movie, knowing the reaction it would cataylse.

Lilly reveals the demon before being brought back around by June. However, Carmichael remains a skeptic and attempts to prove the con by hypnotising the show's lowly secondary presenter, Gus, into believing his body is being infested with worms. Here we get a little bit of David Cronenberg-esque body horror, which did feel a little bit out of place.

Filmmakers Cameron and Colin Cairnes may be Australian, but their understanding and knowledge of those late-night American talk shows of the 1970s and 80s that everyone knows is pitch-perfect, though the undoubted star of this production is Dastmalchian as the host himself Jack Delroy.

Indeed, should Dastmalchian acting career hit a snag, he could easily carve out a career in one of those talk shows. The inclination of words, the very particular wording, the looks to the camera and the gesticulations are all so bang-on, but it's also the behind-the-scenes stuff in which he shines as we as "viewers" (who are now privy to seeing the new footage) are not sure whether or not to root for him.

Every character in the movie is flawed apart from arguably Gus and Lilly herself, who was possessed by a cult that, admittedly could be doing with more of an explanation. The cult connection between Jack and the one that possessed Lilly is never really fleshed out, which is a bit of a shame.

As the carnage ensues in the last 10 minutes, the movie loses its way ever so slightly as Jack finds himself between worlds, seemingly dead yet reliving his show over again.

However, you'll feel a bit silly that you doubted that 10 minutes once its meaning reveals itself.

It's never particularly scary, but it is is so damn difficult to scary people with a movie these days, so therefore it crucially has to be fun. And this is very, very fun. You can tell Dastmalchian is enjoying himself and its almost as if we can picture him as a young lad practising being a talk show host in the mirror, it is that believable. 

It definitely has its darker moments, but overall its a satire of the desperate need for ratings, or clicks these days by any means possible.

How can you not laugh at Jack promising an actual conversation with the devil...but only after a message from our sponsors.

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