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Late Night With The Devil Review

March 25, 2024 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Late Night with the Devil Image Credit: IFC Films & Shudder
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Late Night With The Devil Review  

I don’t watch a lot of late night television these days, but I remember being a big fan of David Letterman back during his tenure up against Jay Leno.

Letterman was so acerbic and biting and “real”; I never understood the appeal of Leno in comparison. When David retired from The Late Show, that was pretty much the end of my watching basic late night television. He was a legend, and while I am sure the current crop of Fallon, Kimmel, and Colbert all have their charms (I used to also adore Colbert when he was on Comedy Central), none of them strike me as being the star Letterman was.

Much like the Letterman/Leno rivalry of yesteryear, the new horror film Late Night With The Devil has a ratings war between two late night hosts as its central conceit. Here, we have The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson (a little before my time, personally) and its opposition, the fictional Night Owls With Jack Delroy.

The movie starts off as a documentary, establishing the background of Jack Delroy and his show leading up to the airing of a Halloween episode in the late 1970’s. With ratings struggling, Jack decides to do a gimmicky occult-themed episode for Halloween night, the centerpiece of which is the summoning of a demon that lives within a thirteen year old girl named Lilly.

With the show starting off with the normal late night flare, things eventually go off the rails, and Jack and his team find themselves in way over their heads.


+ Late Night With The Devil is extraordinarily well-made. The idea to make almost the entire movie an episode of a 1970’s late night television program is genius. It allows the movie to sensibly slowly establish its own story, and even lull you into a false sense of security by playing at being humorous early on. The use of the 4:3 aspect ratio for the screen, usually something I think is a pretty abhorrent choice, works well here because it gives it an even further sensation of being the old timey TV show it’s supposed to be.

The “swaps” between the aired portion of the program and the behind-the-scenes commercial break moments are very creative, too. The use of black and white to show that the cameras filming the BTS stuff aren’t the regular and standard television cameras is a good trick, and much like with Clerks way back in the early 90’s, it creates a sensation in the viewer that they are seeing something through footage that wasn’t meant for their eyes.

All told, directors Cameron and Colin Cairnes obviously put a lot of thought into this film, and their efforts definitely shine through in the finished product.

+ Much like Jeffrey Wright from my other favorite movie of 2024 so far (American Fiction), David Dastmalchian is given the opportunity to make the transition from under appreciated supporting actor to stand-out leading man. He grabs his chance and runs away and hides with it. Dastmalchian is brilliant here, so effortlessly bleeding over from funny and professional to awe-stricken and in fear.

Dastmalchian has such a control over the proceedings, that it’s easy to feel like you are a member of the audience of Night Owls. I was so engrossed in the movie and in his commanding performance, I actually almost clapped at one point when the audience of the show applauded his work. The movie is that absorbing.

I mentioned the 4:3 aspect ratio the movie uses up above, and late in the film, it switches to basic widescreen when it starts showing us stuff that was not filmed for the television program. We start seeing into Jack’s mind and getting some hallucinations that give an idea of what his backstory is.

The problem is, halfway through these hallucinations, the screen reverted back to the 4:3 ratio, and I couldn’t quite place what that choice was for. We were still in Jack’s head and not on the actual footage of Night Owls, so I was distracted during some pivotal moments on the movie trying to figure out why, thematically, the Cairnes decided to switch back to 4:3.

I never did figure it out, but it all left me needing/wanting to see the flick again so I can hopefully ignore that this time and focus on the scenes themselves.

Late Night With The Devil starts off in a documentary style format, with a narrator setting up what you are about to see and giving the backstory of Night Owls and Jack Delroy. Then it segues into the episode of the show, and you live there for the next hour-plus.

The “problem”, such as it is, is that when Night Owls goes off the air, the movie ends, and it all feels very abrupt. You are left with several questions, and it’s easy to wish the narrator of the documentary would have come back and given some after-the-fact information to you.

This didn’t bother me so much–I kind of liked the sudden ending and just being left to deal with what I saw by myself–but it left my wife complaining that she didn’t care for the ending. So it’s a very Your Mileage May Vary sort of Down.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Slightly edging out the aforementioned American Fiction, Late Night With The Devil is my favorite movie mass released in 2024 so far. I can't imagine any reality where such fantastic films are released the rest of the way that this doesn't finish in my Top Ten of the year, and it will likely be my Horror Movie of 2024. Dastmalchian and the Cairnes crafted a believable, engrossing picture that shifts moods and keeps you hooked from start to finish.