Late Night with the Devil: A Horror Fan's Paradise

Late Night with the Devil: Official Trailer | Shudder
Late Night with the Devil: Official Trailer | Shudder / Shudder

Every year, horror fans rejoice when an independent film takes the genre by storm, highlighting the talent and creativity of filmmakers within the indie space. Their success also proves that a substantial budget is unnecessary to produce one of the year's most disturbing and compelling horror features.

When Michael and Danny Philippou's Talk to Me was released in the US in 2023, it was on every horror fan's radar, accomplishing merited recognition soon after its release. This year, Late Night with the Devil quickly became one of 2024's most-anticipated fright flick releases after making its rounds through the film festival circuit, where it received high praise. Thankfully, the festival hype is justified, as Late Night with the Devil is a wild journey and a film you won't want to miss.

For four consecutive years, Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian), the host of the beloved 1970s late-night talk show Night Owls, has attempted to surpass his biggest on-air competitor, Johnny Carson, in the viewership department. Eager to become the most-watched talk show on television, Delroy hopes his spooky and outlandish 1977 Halloween episode "Late Night with the Devil" entices the masses. However, a misguided stunt involving a Night Owls guest turns the evening into a chilling disaster.

Though Late Night with the Devil instantly propels viewers into a world of gimmicks, it's evident from the get-go that something sinister lies behind Delroy's mysterious persona, even when the audience can't quite figure out what it may be. Late Night with the Devil gradually builds suspense while giving you just enough information to keep you invested in the storyline and intrigued by the directional outcome.

Two-thirds into the film, each character's motives remain unclear, and you will run through various possibilities of what might happen with each of the show's guests before the narrative unveils a revelation that will leave you speechless.

What also makes Late Night with the Devil impactful is its ability to reflect the authenticity of a real-life talk show experience. The set pieces perfectly capture the 1970s aesthetic, and each moment spent in the fictional Night Owls studio makes viewers feel as though they have entered a time capsule and transported back in time. Delroy's obsession with success and the unethical path he chooses to achieve it demonstrates the drastic measures people may take for self-fulfillment and how consuming greed can be.

Though Dastmalchian has only starred in supporting roles until now, he's always been a phenomenal actor, exhibiting a strong on-screen presence. His previous work in Prisoners, The Dark Knight, Boston Strangler, and Oppenheimer reflects the star's undeniable talent, and his performances are always memorable. Late Night with the Devil finally places him center stage in a leading role, allowing him to bask in the spotlight, and he does not disappoint.

At face value, Delroy is one of Dastmalchian's least menacing characters to date, yet that doesn't make his performance any less effective. He fully commits to the role of the goofy, stoic talk show host while also demonstrating a mysterious presence. Though, like most horror films that take a more subtle approach, nothing is quite as it seems, and personas can be deceiving.

Praise must be given to Ingrid Torelli, who wows with the eerie physicality she displays through Lilly. Torelli steals every scene she appears in, creating an unsettling feeling as the uncertainty of what might happen next looms over the audience.

All in all, Late Night with the Devil is undoubtedly one of the most influential and disturbing horror films of the last decade. Directors Cameron and Colin Cairnes have created a unique, praiseworthy feature. Though the flick's spooky elements subtly sneak up on you, viewers are entranced by dread, tension, and suspense as the narrative progresses.

What starts as a lighthearted, fun talk show experience becomes a twisted nightmare, reaching its shocking climax in an unpredictable, staggering third act. Late Night with the Devil is a horror fan's paradise, flawlessly led by Dastmalchian's solid, enigmatic performance.

Rating 4.5/5

‘No Way Up’ review: sharks on a plane that outlines a nightmare. dark. Next. ‘No Way Up’ review: sharks on a plane that outlines a nightmare