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Late Night With The Devil ★★★★★



Released: 22nd March 2024

Director: Cameron and Colin Cairnes

Starring: David Dastmalchian, Georgina Haig

Whether you are an early bird or a night owl. The talk show has been a staple of American television for decades, birthing many an awkward exchange in its time. Bizarre sofa jumping from Tom Cruise on Oprah. Dakota Johnson infamously confronting Ellen DeGeneres about a birthday party invite. In the moment leaving its apparently esteemed presenters lost for words. But does it lay the groundwork for a greater loss in the long term?

When there’s such fierce competition around you, in keeping audiences onboard with your precious show. Where do you draw the line, in what you consider a credible or tasteful segment? In keeping proceedings personable. What’s the cost in broadcasting as well as potentially oversharing your own personal affairs?

Questions worth asking a spooked David Dastmalchian in this rip-roaring tale of possession and obsession that will have you glued to your seat.

America. The 1970’s. A country billed as entering its ‘Satanic Age’, as chaos reigns on the streets. Home comfort lies in Jack Delroy’s (Dastmalchian) late-night talk show ‘Night Owls’. With a personality as big as his sideburns and stage sensation Madeleine Piper (Georgina Haig) on his arm, he’s soon charming the nation as audience share increases. But the number one slot and awards recognition continue to elude him, with these frustrations soon compounded by tragedy.

As the decade ticks by. In a desperate bid to stay relevant, Delroy leans into one controversial interview after another, to frightfully little uptick in fortune. Culminating in one fateful night. Halloween 1977. Stacking the deck with freaky goings-on, with the main event being parapsychologist Dr June Ross-Mitchell (Laura Gordon) plugging her latest book ‘Conversations with The Devil’. Centred around a church mass suicide, with its unnervingly smiley victim named Lilly (Ingrid Torelli) in tow. However, Delroy’s provoking for cheap exploitative thrills may just see him pay a hefty price. Time to say hello to Mr Wiggles…

Like any compelling drama unfolding, that wins the hearts of the masses. ‘Late Night With The Devil’ succeeds by taking the slow-burner approach, coupled with the grainy period aesthetic that is fully immersive. Directorial duo Cameron and Colin Cairnes consistently positioning its subject slightly and deliberately off-centre, relying on extreme close-ups as well as rapid cutaways, to drive home the growing unease and failure to maintain one’s ‘image’.

Catching the action on the sidelines and behind the curtain from skewed angles. Mirroring the moral compass of its presenter, as cynicism (Ian Bliss’ exasperated skeptic Carmichael Haig a prominent source) grips many of those present. Almost acting as lurking demons, ready to claim a tortured soul in Delroy.

Late Night’s real-time build mirroring how we’d normally consume a show of this nature, instead of singling out the obligatory chills only ratchets up the tension. Making that transition from cosy chat to full-blown terror even more impactful. With the emphasis on skilful practical effects alongside skin-crawling Cronenberg-esque body horror, brilliantly befitting this era of the genre.

A career up to now, consisting of many great impressions but mostly on the fringes. Here, front and centre. David Dastmalchian seizes the moment with an utterly riveting performance. Impeccably striking the balance between charm and smarm as Jack Delroy, gradually shedding his initial swaggering exterior. Morphing into a hunched, frightened spectator, both uncomfortable with his sudden lack of control and the weight of expectation on his shoulders.

Fully deserving of a primetime slot. ‘Late Night With The Devil’ is truly wicked entertainment.

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