LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL (2023) Review by Steve Kirkham



4 stars
Vertigo Releasing/Shudder. UK Cinemas 22nd March

Set in America in the 70s, LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL, opens with a series of news clips and stock footage to establish the back story. “We are entering a satanic age” we are informed as various appropriate images flash across the screen. ”Television beams the horrors into our living rooms”, the voiceover intones.

We are introduced to Jack Dorsey (David Dastmalchian), a popular Chicago radio announcer, who is now a late night TV host with his own show ‘Night Owls’. It’s your typical mix of opening monologue, slightly pat interviews with the stars of the day, comedy sketches, interactions with the audience. You know the drill.

The first part plays like a documentary – Dorsey has his sights on the top spot in the ratings, which is dominated by The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. But he never quite reaches those heights. Following a tragedy he takes a break but when he returns he is determined to bring success – especially during the all important sweeps week.

Halloween Night 1977: he has a plan to shoot up the ratings – a live TV event that will shock the nation…

The rest of the film is presented as rediscovered tapes of the complete broadcast plus previously unseen footage. The interviews start with a medium, progress to a skeptic who exposes charlatans and then the coup de grace, a conversation with a researcher into satanic cults and the the like, alongside young Lilly (an impressive Ingrid Torelli), a survivor from one such group – she claims to have a demonic force inside her and is suitably creepy.

A compelling variant on devilish possession, this is a found footage film done right, with a great, slow build and believable narrative plus an actual reason for the cameras to keep rolling.

It’s a brilliant pastiche of the typical talk show, beautifully capturing the vibe of the 70s, with spot on title sequence, suitably cheesy sets, music from a house band, not forgetting Delroy in his fetching tan suit!

Dastmalchian is excellent as the initially all fake smiles host, which begins to slip as he realises things are getting way out of his control.

The clever script and tight direction is by brothers Colin and Cameron Caines.

Steve Kirkham