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Late Night with the Devil

I’m lucky in that a) I live very close to a great cinema and b) one my daughters recently bought me a monthly pass that gives me unlimited tickets. As a result, I’ve been regularly making the six minute walk (honest) from my front door to the movies, and I’ve already managed to see more films on the big screen this year than I saw throughout the whole of 2023. This week’s excursion was to see LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL, and I’m so glad I did. It’s ace, and I wanted to recommend it to you without reservation. Synopsis, trailer, thoughts follow.

A live television broadcast in 1977 goes horribly wrong, unleashing evil into the nation’s living rooms.

If you’ve looked at the RECOMMENDATIONS page of this site before, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of found footage movies. When they’re done well, they can be extraordinarily effective (see EXHIBIT A and THE BORDERLANDS for decent examples). I think of faux TV broadcast movies as kind of sub-genre of found footage, and a couple of superb examples spring to mind. At the top of the list for me are the largely forgotten SPECIAL BULLETIN and the classic GHOSTWATCH. To my mind LATE NIGHT WITH DEVIL comfortably stands alongside those titles. A demonstration of demonic possession live on late night TV… what could go wrong? Why, everything, of course!

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As I’ve said previously, the success of found footage and fake TV movies rests to a large extent on the premise. Fake broadcasts are probably easier to sell, because there’s a logical explanation as to why the cameras are watching, and we’re not relying on random characters (who probably should have put the camera down and run for their lives) to show us the story. In that respect, LATE NIGHT is beautifully packaged. Opening with a montage and narration (voiced by the mighty MICHAEL IRONSIDE) that sets the scene for host Jack Delroy’s (DAVID DASTMALCHIAN) rise and fall and potential re-rise, we’re then treated to the broadcast itself which is presented with spot-on period accuracy. In a genius move, whenever there’s an ad break in the show, the gaps are filled in with ‘recently unearthed’ behind-the-scenes footage which serves to drive the narrative forward by showing glimpses of the increasing backstage panic. Technically, I really admired the attention to detail throughout, with frequently changing aspect ratios and camera quality helping to sell the set up.

But there’s more than just technical skill and strong performances on display in LATE NIGHT. There’s also an engaging story at the film’s heart that reveals itself in a careful and measured way despite the movie’s relatively short running time and quick pace. We’re not just here for the jump scares and flashes of EXORCIST-style mayhem – there’s far more going on here than you initially expect. That said, when the madness of the final section of the movie/show kicks off, it really kicks off.

As usual, this post isn’t intended to be a review, it’s a recommendation. I thought LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL was wildly entertaining, and I think it’s definitely worth your while. It’s currently on a limited cinema release here in the UK, and I believe it hits SHUDDER later this month. Please check it out.