Published on April 13th, 2024 | by Harris Dang

Late Night With The Devil – Film Review

Reviewed by Harris Dang on the 13th of April 2024
Maslow Entertainment presents a film by Colin and Cameron Cairnes
Produced by Mat Govoni, Adam White, John Molloy, Roy Lee, Steven Schneider, Derek Dauchy
Starring David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon, Ian Bliss, Fayssal Bazzi, Ingrid Torelli, Rhys Auteri, Georgina Haig, and Josh Quong Tart
Running Time: 93 minutes
Rating: MA15+
Release Date: the 11th of April 2024

Set in the late ‘70s, Late Night With The Devil revolves around the uncovered footage of a successful variety late-night talk show called ‘Night Owls with Jack Delroy’. The film is framed as a found-footage project and documents the strange, supernatural occurrences in a Halloween episode.

What makes this episode different is that Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian) has invited onto the show a supposedly a possessed girl named Lilly D’Abo (Ingrid Torelli). It is a desperate attempt to boost the show’s ratings and beat his competition, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

Alongside renowned psychic Christou (Fayssal Bazzi), the acclaimed parapsychologist author June Ross-Mitchell (Laura Gordon), and former magician turn myth-buster Carmichael the Conjurer (Ian Bliss), it appears to be a television ratings hit. But little do they know the late night will be memorable for all the wrong reasons.


Late Night With The Devil is the latest film from brothers Cameron and Colin Cairnes. They are Australian filmmakers, best known for their horror-comedies, including the bogan [sic] horror 100 Bloody Acres (2012) and the reality-show inspired Scare Campaign (2016). Now they are influenced by late-night variety talk shows for their latest horror-comedy venture.

Classic US talk shows were hosted by people such as Johnny Carson or David Letterman. The show that aired here in Australia was The Don Lane Show from which this film is strongly influenced. In fact, one conflict in the film is taken verbatim from an argument between Lane and a magician-turned-skeptic James Randi. Therefore, the film makes no bones about what it has up its sleeves.

On the horror front, the directors do not skimp on the gore and lashings of blood as the tension escalates. Special credit goes to the effects team for keeping the practical effects engagingly lo-fi, which is befitting of the period and style. However, with a new storytelling format through the prism of found footage and mockumentary, it gives the Cairnes a new sandbox to test their mettle.

It is because of that prism the filmmakers must apply a level of discipline to adhere to the plausibility of found-footage. For the most part, they balance humour and horror proficiently due to amusing character interactions, well-timed jump scares, and a well-kept balance between sincerity in the emotional drama of Jack Delroy and the absurdity of what is seen to be a supernatural phenomenon.

The chemistry between the cast does a great job in maintaining that balance. Josh Quong Tart (as Delroy’s slimy manager), Fayssal Bazzi, and Ian Bliss make their performances entertainingly cartoony without sacrificing the humanity behind their roles while Laura Gordon grounds the proceedings with integrity and dignity. Special mention must go to Ingrid Torelli, who commits physically and dramatically in playing the enigmatic role of Lilly. Her memorable, spooky presence is sure to frighten many viewers.

The standout in the cast is David Dastmalchian. After making huge impressions through small roles in studio films, including The Dark Knight (2008), Prisoners (2013), Ant-Man (2015), and others, he finally has the lead role and proves more than his worth in the role of Jack Delroy. Despite the gimmicky storytelling and the genre hijinks in play, Dastmalchian never forgets the emotion of the narrative. He imbues the film with much-needed pathos and humility to make the drama work. But he also proves to be wholly charismatic and he weaponises it extremely well. He uses it as a mask to hide his insecurities, particularly in a setting where the whole country is watching.

But as much as there is praise for the film, there are a few qualms that lower the film’s quality. As with most found-footage films, the reality of the situation is the foundation that makes or breaks the narrative. If there is one diversion from the reality of the situation, then the reality is nullified, making the drama contrived and unconvincing. Without venturing into spoiler territory, the third act discards the format entirely. It just feels like a dealbreaker and a cop-out that it could not hold onto its own convictions as it reaches its overstated climax.

Another dealbreaker that relates to the reality of the situation is the verisimilitude of the setting and period affectations are not entirely convincing. The filmmaking techniques, such as long-takes and fly-on-the-wall behind-the-scenes footage, never feel period-accurate nor does it fit the found-footage format, which hinders the drama. There is also the unfortunate use of AI in its production design (that has been reported extensively, that lends the film an inescapable element of artifice that the Cairnes cannot overcome.

Overall, Late Night With The Devil is an entertaining, admirable attempt in blending horror and comedy within the storytelling ingenuity of found-footage and mockumentary. It is also buoyed by a fantastic performance from David Dastmalchian. However, its diversions from its storytelling framework keeps the film from reaching greatness.


Late Night With The Devil – Film Review Harris Dang

Summary: An entertaining, admirable attempt in blending horror and comedy within the storytelling ingenuity of found-footage and mockumentary.



About the Author'

Back to Top ↑