Film Review: “Late Night With the Devil”


  • Starring: David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon
  • Directed by: Cameron and Colin Cairnes
  • Rating: R
  • Running Time: 1 hr 33 mins
  • IFC Films


I tend to stay away from so-called horror films. I regard them as mundane with over-the-top scare tactics that are silly and scripts that were probably written in crayon. I still believe that last great horror film was “The Blair Witch Project” for its use of psychological terror, but that’s a discussion for another day. However, the newest entry into the genre, “Late Night with the Devil,” elicited my intrigue because it stars one of Kansas City’s own – David Dastmalchian. Inventive. Creative. Genius. Creepy. Terrifying. Those are all adjectives that can apply to this terrific piece of cinema.


The great Michael Ironsides lays the groundwork for the story with a voiceover narration that introduces us to late night talk show host, Jack Delroy (Dastmalchian), who has connections to a mysterious place in the California woods called “The Grove” where the rich and powerful meet and hold secret rituals. We learn that from humble beginnings, Jack’s show, “Night Owls”, becomes a strong contender to Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show.” As the years pass, though, “Night Owls” begins to slide in the ratings. At his lowest point, Jack’s wife, Madeleine (Georginia Haig, “Once Upon a Time”) dies from cancer.


After a month-long hiatus, which involved a trip to The Grove, Jack returns to his late-night gig. Desperate to save his show, Jack, in 1977, devises a Halloween show that will feature a teenage girl named Lilly (Ingrid Torelli, “Five Bedrooms”) who is supposedly possessed, and her doctor, June Ross-Mitchell (Laura Gordon, “Saw V”). Jack also brings onboard a questionable psychic and a professional debunker who is skeptic of anything paranormal or supernatural. Things start taking a turn for the worse during the show, but Jack is determined to forge ahead so he can beat Carson.


Similar to “The Blair Witch Project,” the premise of “Late Night with the Devil” is that it’s a documentary complete with the “real” footage of the Halloween broadcast of “Night Owls” and other, never-before-seen footage caught by other cameras. Dastmalchian is nothing short of brilliant in the lead as a man so desperate to be number one that he will do anything to achieve it. Jack is not a bad man, but he makes bad choices that Dastmalchian does a superb job in showing how much of a toll it ends up taking on him.


The story is like a slow boil and by the time the terror begins you are completely hooked. There are few special effects in the film, which was clearly made on a small budget. What there is could have been toned down a smidge at it does become a little too typical. Nevertheless, “Late Night with the Devil” will leave you on the edge of your seat.


Overall, you probably should not watch “Late Night with the Devil” right before you go to bed.


“Late Night with the Devil” receives ★★★1/2 out of five.

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