Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Colin Cairnes and Cameron Cairnes.
Starring David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon, Ian Bliss, Ingrid Torelli.
Horror, Australia, 93 minutes, certificate 15.


Released in cinemas in the UK 22nd March by Vertigo Releasing and Shudder. Streaming on Shudder from 19th April.


The use of a live broadcast documenting otherworldly events and fooling the audience into thinking these events were taking place goes back to 1938 with Orson Welles radio adaptation of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds which with its use of actors posing as real-life journalists and witnesses to an invasion from Mars fooled many an unsuspecting listener. Then in 1992 some of us were lucky to bear witness to the live transmission on BBC1 of GHOSTWATCH. Readers of a certain age will know someone who knows someone whose mum phoned up the BBC to check up on Michael Parkinson’s supposed possession after a ghost laid havoc to a Halloween broadcast investigating a haunted house in England.


When hearing the premise of LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL, that legendary BBC play seems to be the most obvious inspiration for the tale of a 1970’s American broadcast of a late-night chat show conducting its own investigation into the other side. While it may lack the immediacy of its obvious inspirations, Colin and Cameron Cairnes film is a smart update on the conceit that manages to pack in a layered story to go along with its compelling lead character, Jack Delroy, an amiable chat show host whose second place status next to his competitor Johnny Carson has eaten away at him over the years as well as the recent death of his loving wife. Hopes that a Halloween edition of his show will bump up the ratings with its inclusion of a psychic, a sceptic investigator and a young girl rescued from a notorious devil worshipping cult soon begin to fade as unexplained events seem to add up as the night goes on to reach a terrifying crescendo.


David Dastmalchian seizes on the opportunity to tackle a leading role here after proving himself as one of the most distinctive supporting actors over the past few years. His usually sinister edge gives way to a more avuncular, chummy personality whose more ruthless and needy side pops up when the live cameras stop rolling in documentary footage that was taken on the night of the original broadcast. Such character work makes the film feel like an unholy melding of THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW and THE EXORCIST, particularly when Lilly, the surviving victim of the devil worshipping cult takes to the stage and introduces the audience to Mr Wriggles, a person who comes into her head and makes her say and do very bad things.


Events culminate in a pleasingly barmy and near surreal fashion that also manages to satisfy immensely. Much has been made in certain quarters of the decision to use AI art for some of the broadcast’s brief interstitial title cards, used well in advance of last year's Hollywood strikes and concerns, but to counterbalance there is a pleasing amount of otherwise convincing period detail and practical effects work delivering some eye-popping shocks. While it may wear its influences on its sleeves, LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL still manages to be a hugely entertaining spook show with several genuine chills that more than stands on its own feet.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans