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‘LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL’ Film Review: A Hellishly Hypnotic Morality Play on the Allure of Unchecked Ambition

The Cairnes brothers (100 Bloody Acres) have made a devilishly fun slice of horror that gradually builds to a (largely) tremendous climax that rewards your patience. Its perfectly paced 90 minutes cleverly unfolds in a real-time found footage format evoking fond memories of the British mockumentary masterpiece Ghostwatch. Like Stevens Volk’s ahead-of-its-time tale, Late Night With the Devil also revolves around a TV show — in this case, a wonderfully realised chat show called “Night Owls.” The attention to period detail here is superb with the set design being equally complemented by some eye popping 70’s fashion that’s a real credit to production and costume designers Otello Stolfo and Steph Hooke, respectively.

“Night Owls” host, Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian) is determined to slay the ratings and finally beat out legendary late-night king Johnny Carson. However, tonight’s 1977 Halloween special is going to change all that with a spooky lineup that includes a deliciously hammed-up psychic (Fayssal Bazzi), a sanctimoniously dickish skeptic (Ian Bliss), a mild-mannered parapsychologist Dr. Ross-Mitchell, and an mysterious child named Lilly (Ingrid Torelli) who may just be possessed by…well, check the title. This diverse lineup promises a wicked twist on the usual late-night antics.

Dastmalchian, so frequently a scene-stealing supporting player, richly rewards the viewer with a fully immersive performance, finding just the right balance of smarm and charm to make Delroy an eminently memorable character as well as being highly reflective of male hosts of the era. Beneath the TV façade though, lies a man so hungry for fame that he’s prepared to do anything to get it. As the show progresses and it becomes clear that his actions may well be putting Lilly in jeopardy, Jack is torn between protecting her and chasing the spotlight. Ultimately, fame’s siren song proves too powerful to resist.

Late Night With the Devil isn’t particularly scary, but it is scarily good fun and whilst the symptoms of the child’s possession are nothing new at first sight, the Cairnes take things to thrillingly twisted new heights as we reach the jaw-dropping finale. This reviewer has a minor gripe about the ending as Delroy goes through a series of nightmare-like sequences, but it’s a minor quibble in this hellishly fun journey.

With its wonderfully entertaining morality play warning audiences about the perils of ambition taken too far and David Dastmalchian’s star-making performance, Late Night With the Devil emerges as one of the most mesmerising horror films of the year.

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Where to watch Late Night With The Devil
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