Cult CanoeMovies

Late Night With the Devil (2024) | Review

Ever since it premiered at SXSW last year, we horror fans have been hearing a lot about a certain spooky gem, Late Night With the Devil. The Cairnes Brothers, who wrote and directed the picture, have conjured up something special here, tapping into yesteryear’s vibes of the late-night boob tube to spin a tale that’s scrumptiously sinister and quite funny at times. (But it’s far more horror than comedy.)

It’s Halloween night, 1977, and the Tonight Show’s closest competitor, Night Owls, is about to do something wild: interview the Devil before a live audience. Brown leisure-suited Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian) is like the cool, younger cousin of Johnny Carson, but with a hint of desperation to top the TV heap. In a mad dash for ratings gold, Delroy and his crew decide to dive headfirst into the occult craze. They line up a show that’s like a buffet of the bizarre—think mediums, skeptics, and a dash of demonic drama, all 100% live. Dastmalchian owns every scene—as Jack, he’s a mix of blithe charisma and hidden torment, a man wrestling with personal demons while hosting a show that’s about to unleash real ones.

The cast of characters has been plucked straight from the archives of paranormal pop culture, with a healthy dose of late-night TV tropes. Take Carmichael the Conjurer (Ian Bliss), our resident skeptic. He’s got that James Randi vibe, the guy who famously called out Uri Geller’s spoon-bending antics on live TV. Then there’s Christou (Fayssal Bazzi), giving off medium melodrama, ready to duke it out with skeptics on air. June Ross-Mitchell (Laura Gordon) steps in as the parapsychologist, striking a balance between earnestness and the eerie, while her possibly possessed patient, teen Lilly (Ingrid Torelli), flips from zombie-like to zesty in a way that’s just applause-worthy. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a late-night gabfest without the trusty sidekick, and Gus McConnell (Rhys Auteri) is there to be to the straight man, the butt of jokes, and of course, the guinea pig for demonic demos.

I have watched a lot of late-night TV in my time, and I must say, the attention to detail is spot-on. The sets, the clothes, the music, even the way the show “Night Owls With Jack Delroy” feels, it’s like they’ve resurrected the most beige slice of the ’70s right before our eyes. And when the horror dials up, you’re not just watching; you’re right there, feeling every tense moment.

What I love is how the film plays with the format, blending the on-air and behind-the-scenes drama in a way that feels fresh yet familiar. Yes, there’s a bit where the immersion breaks, like when we’re shown footage that feels too polished for “accidental” backstage captures, but it’s a minor nitpick in an otherwise thrilling ride. (And that scene is fun, too… anyone who knows who Anton LaVey was will have a laugh for sure.) The ending has been a bit divisive among fans but to me, it was reminiscent of the more surreal aspects of Fulci’s The Beyond with a dash of Polanski’s The Ninth Gate. Nothing wrong with that!

Late Night With the Devil is a masterclass in horror that toys with our nostalgia for bygone eras while serving up a feast of frights. If you’re into horror that’s clever, darkly humorous, immersive, and downright spooky, you’ve got to check this out. It’s not just good; even this early in the game, it’s a contender for the best horror flick of the year.

Share Button