Late Night with the Devil review: "David Dastmalchian shines in this sophisticated horror movie"

 David Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy in Late Night with the Devil.
David Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy in Late Night with the Devil.

It’s Halloween, 1977. As an anxious America looks on, TV host Jack Delroy (Ant-Man/The Suicide Squad’s David Dastmalchian) puts on a special edition of his chat show, Night Owls. Having lost his wife to cancer, and slipped down the ratings, this looks like it could be his big chance to claw back some viewers.

But his choice of guests – from on-the-make medium Christou (Fayssal Bazzi) to cynical conjurer Carmichael (Ian Bliss), parapsychologist June (Laura Gordon) and her possessed young patient Lilly (Ingrid Torelli) – proves somewhat unwise when creepy things start happening on camera…

Written, directed and edited by Australian brothers Cameron and Colin Cairnes (2012’s 100 Bloody Acres, 2016’s Scare Campaign), shot in Melbourne and featuring an excellent, largely homegrown cast, Late Night with the Devil offers up an impeccable recreation of syndicated '70s TV. As we cut from the live feed to black-and-white behind-the-scenes moments, we begin to learn more about the actual veracity of what it is we’re seeing.

Dastmalchian shines as Delroy, mugging to the studio audience as things spiral out of control, all the while rubbing his hands that he has managed to create the TV event of the decade. And along the way, the filmmakers pull off some rather nasty surprises.

But there’s subtext here as well as scares. Throwing elements of the Watergate scandal, the Manson family and The Exorcist into the mix, the Cairnes suggest a United States so used to being manipulated, it has no idea who it can trust anymore.

Late Night with the Devil is in US theaters and UK cinemas from March 22.

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