Movie Reviews
Late Night with the Devil (2024).

Late Night with the Devil Review: A Deeply Disturbing and Unique Watch

The challenge for filmmakers is to forge a new path or rekindle the sparks of horror’s past in fresh, compelling ways. With Late Night with the Devil, directors and writers Colin and Cameron Cairnes tackle this challenge head-on, offering a tantalizing mix of horror, suspense, and a nostalgic throwback to 1970s television. This film manages to carve out its own niche within the genre, leveraging the talents of David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon, and a stellar supporting cast to weave a narrative that is both haunting and innovatively self-aware.

The premise of Late Night with the Devil is deceptively simple: in an attempt to rejuvenate his flagging career and the ratings of his talk show Night Owls, Jack Delroy (played with a mix of desperation and charisma by Dastmalchian) decides to host a Halloween special. The show takes a daring turn by featuring a girl purportedly possessed by demons, aiming to captivate and shock the nation. It’s a decision that, unbeknownst to Jack and his team, sets the stage for an evening of genuine terror and revelation.

The Good:

What makes this film stand out is not just its plot but the Cairnes brothers’ approach to storytelling. By embedding the narrative within the framework of a late-night show from the ’70s, they capitalize on a mix of nostalgia and the inherent creepiness of dated television aesthetics. The grainy footage, period-appropriate set design, and costume all contribute to a sense of unease and authenticity. It blurs the lines between the film’s reality and our own.

David Dastmalchian’s portrayal of Jack Delroy is central to the film’s success. Dastmalchian navigates the complex layers of his character with ease. Jack is at once a grieving husband, a desperate showman, and ultimately, a man facing the consequences of his hubris. The supporting cast, including Laura Gordon as the psychic June Ross-Mitchell and Ian Bliss as the skeptical producer Carmichael Haig, provide strong performances. They ground the film’s supernatural elements in human emotion and conflict.

The decision to include documentary elements and the found footage enhances the story’s credibility and immersion. This choice respects the horror genre’s traditions and challenges the audience’s perception of reality and performance. The tension escalates on screen and within the viewers, creating an engaging meta-experience.

The Bad:

Despite its many strengths, Late Night with the Devil is not without its shortcomings. The film’s pacing occasionally falters, particularly in the buildup to the Halloween special. Some scenes feel unnecessarily drawn out, which dilutes the tension and delays the gratification of the unfolding horror.

The reliance on genre tropes may feel familiar to horror fans. The film partially challenges conventions but falls short of fully subverting them, missing an opportunity for genre innovation.

Overall:

However, these criticisms are relatively minor in the grand scheme of the film’s achievements. Late Night with the Devil is a compelling addition to the horror genre. It offers a unique blend of psychological terror and a thoughtful meditation on grief, fame, and the cost of ambition. The Cairnes brothers demonstrate a keen understanding of horror’s power to scare and reflect deeper human truths. The film’s climax offers scares and commentary on public spectacle and twisted desires.

Late Night with the Devil is a film that both celebrates and critiques the horror genre. It is a noteworthy accomplishment in modern horror cinema with strong performances, a clever narrative, and a unique aesthetic. Despite some tropes and pacing issues, they don’t greatly diminish its impact. It deserves to be watched in the dark, preferably late at night, to fully appreciate its craft.

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  • Acting - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 9/10
    9/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 9/10
    9/10
  • Watchability - 8/10
    8/10
  • Rewatchability - 6/10
    6/10
Overall
8.2/10
8.2/10
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