Review: Late Night With the Devil

Kind of a twist on the found footage genre, since it’s ostensibly a “lost” tape of the last broadcast (see what I did there?) of a national late night TV show.

First of all, the performances are great: David Dastmalchian is both charming and slightly off-putting as the host, Ian Bliss is a delight as an arrogant, showboating magician-turned-professional skeptic, Rhys Auteri plays the long-suffering sidekick with just the perfect amount of supressed rage, and Ingrid Torellis is fantastic as Lilly, which is good because the entire movie depends on her performance.

It just makes such a difference when everyone in a horror movie can act. No weak links in this cast. The script is good too—not just another version of something we’ve seen a million times, but a pretty fresh twist on both found footage and demonic possession. You know what else I liked? The filmmakers drop some information early on, and I was pretty sure this was going to come out later in the movie as a Big Reveal, but, in fact, they trusted that their audience had seen enough horror movies to draw their own conclusions, and it wasn’t necessary to construct a big reveal on those points! I cannot stress enough how rare this is.

Also good—the movie captures the 70’s atmosphere perfectly, in everything from the look and feel to the show to the creepy kid, which was a strong trope in 70’s horror cinema. So far so good, and I enjoyed watching it.

I do of course have 2 quibbles. The first involves spoilers, so skip the next paragraph if you want to avoid them.

Okay, so Carmichael Haig has a rational explanation for everything, but then his rational explanation for the…initial event with Lilly is involuntary mass hypnosis, which he then demonstrates? Nah. Not buying it. I mean, I could buy it from another movie, but it seemed to violate the movie’s internal logic and therefore seemed like a cheesy development.

And, perhaps more importantly, the filmmakers made their own deal with the devil by using AI-generated, or, more simply, plagiarized, images on some of the “more to come” and “be right back” title cards that come up on commercial breaks. I mean, the title cards did help build the 70’s atmosphere (much as the non-AI-generated ones on Hanging With Dr. Z do), but why involve the Automated Plagiarism Machine on something a human graphic designer could do easily? It’s not like this was a low-budget production, by horror standards. Dumb, shitty decision. I knew this going in to the movie and so obviously didn’t boycott it as a result, but it’s actually mystifying to me why they did this unless it was simply to get us used to machine-plagiarized art in movies so they can phase out real artists in the future.

#review #movie #horror #shudder