Late Night with the Devil

Late Night with the Devil is a high-wire act that has the viewer glued to the screen at all times.  And, just when we thought period variety shows couldn’t be any scarier than the Mother of All Shows.

Desperate for a comeback, TV personality Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian of The Suicide Squad and The Boogeyman) and his slick producer Leo (Josh Quong Tart) assemble an assuredly unforgettable Halloween episode of their talk show “Night Owls with Jack Delroy”.  However, the episode would become infamous for its disturbing live seance along with other controversial demonic activity.

Modelled like an exclusive insider on Delroy and featuring a re-airing of the 1977 Halloween episode with “never-before-seen” behind-the scenes footage, Late Night with the Devil is extremely committed to its tricks.  Cameron Cairnes and Colin Cairnes, who both wrote and directed this innovative indie, have such a fun and unique eye for detail;  enabling a nice balance between nostalgia and becoming a product of its period.  Even the headline gags in Delroy’s monologue are groan-worthy in a way that’s purposeful and clever.

The show’s segments feature a performance by a medium named Christou (Fayssal Bazzi), followed by a debate by supernatural debunker Carmichael Haig (Ian Bliss, possibly basing his character off of An Honest Liar’s illusionist James “The Amazing” Randi).  This latter confrontation does not impress Christou, who genuinely picks up some bad energy in the studio.  Horror aside, the heated discussions caused by Haig’s antagonistic behaviour are deliberately frustrating and utterly fascinating.

Also on the program, author/parapsychologist Dr. June Ross-Mitchell (Laura Gordon) and her subject young Lilly (Ingrid Torelli), the sole survivor of a ritualistic cult who committed a mass suicide after a police standoff.  Lilly has a connection to a sinister force but, again, Haig doesn’t believe this.  Delroy, on the other hand, has faith in Lilly and is willing to hijack the segment to exploit this “gift” and the society’s “satanic panic” for ratings.

Delroy’s story unfolds before the show – during that brilliant faux-insider – and slowly throughout the episode of “Night Owls”, and it’s an arc that’s absolutely riveting.  Dastmalchian creates a fascinating character who can naturally alternate between charm and deception, yet has no resilience when under pressure from his producer and the network.  The film also benefits from its choice of fear, showcasing foreboding unease rather than typical possession jump scares.  Late Night with the Devil isn’t necessarily a scary movie in the traditional “found footage” sense (see: Frogman or the Paranormal Activity movies), but it sure as hell fills the viewer with uncomfortable, second-guessing dread – the exact same way the studio audience feels.

The final scenes, after the show goes sideways with violent repercussions, break outside the film’s disciplined narrative to deliver a series of hallucinatory, blaming self-reflections for Delroy.  It’s an unnerving change of pace at first considering the movie is almost at its finish line, but the added substance creates an unforgettably disturbing ending.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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