Late Night With The Devil review | David Dastmalchian’s finest hour

Late Night With The Devil
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In Colin and Cameron Cairnes’ horror film, the Devil sits down with a late night host for a little chat. Here’s our Late Night With The Devil review. 

The basic premise of Late Night With The Devil, Colin and Cameron Cairnes’ new horror film, is what if you took Jimmy Fallon or Jay Leno and got him to interview a possessed little girl, live on air?

It’s a delicious premise and the resulting film is a thrilling throwback to the B-movies of the 1970s. (The film has, however, come under fire for its use of AI imagery. You can read more about that here.) 

At the centre of Late Night With The Devil is David Dastmalchian’s Jack Delroy, a late night host who is constantly competing with Johnny Carson in the ratings. Delroy is desperate to make a splash and invites more and more controversial guests on his show in hopes that it’ll give his numbers a healthy boost. 

late night with the devil david dastmalchian
Credit: Vertigo Releasing

The film is presented as a lost episode from the show’s sixth season in 1977. It’s set on Halloween, and Jack has invited extra spooky guests on. These include a psychic who’s able to contact the dead, a skeptic who doesn’t believe in such a thing and lastly, a parapsychologist who brings a young girl – the only survivor of a satanic mass suicide. As you can guess, Jack’s show goes very, very wrong.  

Read more: Interview | Director Michael Mohan on making Immaculate and working with Sydney Sweeney

Late Night With The Devil nails its setting. The 70s vibes are simply immaculate, and I kind of wish Night Owls with Jack Delroy was a real programme. I’d certainly tune in, even with the demonic possession. The setting also gives the story some juice as the satanic panic was firmly on its way if not quite rife in the US at that point. 

Dastmalchian carries the film admirably on his shoulders. The film lives and dies by his performance and he nails it. Every mannerism, every forced cackle is perfectly executed. This guy could easily host a late night talk show and, again, we’d definitely be tuning in. 

Dastmalchian is a familiar face for many, but he often lurks in the sidelines of any film he’s cast in. He’s funny in Ant-Man, delightfully weird in The Suicide Squad and disturbing in Prisoners, but he’s rarely been given the chance to be equally charming and unnerving. There’s an undeniable darkness to Jack as he touts his terminally ill wife in front of a studio audience in a desperate attempt to bring more viewers in. Dastmalchian brilliantly weaves desperation into his performance, without ever resorting to caricaturish extremes. 

I do wish Late Night With The Devil was a little scarier. There are some wonderful practical effects and the atmosphere that directors Colin and Cameron Cairnes create feels unique and authentic. It’s just that there aren’t that many scares and nothing that really challenges you or makes you uncomfortable. 

While Late Night With The Devil presents itself as a “lost episode” of Delroy’s show, making this essentially a found footage film, the Cairnes brothers abandon that approach as Night Owls cuts to an ad break. We often follow Jack as he gets a drink of water or talks to a producer, but it’s not quite explained how the scenes set backstage are captured. It lessens the film’s effectiveness and feels like a glaring oversight. 

That being said, I enjoyed Late Night With The Devil enormously. The ending won’t please everyone – it’s a little sudden and doesn’t spell things out, which we’d count as a strength – but the film gives much food for thought. Colin and Cameron Cairnes direct the film with admirable precision and conjure up some truly nightmarish images.  

After such a drought of truly fascinating horror movies, we’re lucky for two to arrive in UK cinemas in the same week. Let’s hope 2024 has many more films like this in store for us. 

Late Night With The Devil is in cinemas now. 

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