The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Review | ‘Late Night with the Devil’ is a modern horror classic

David Dastmalchian expertly leads a fun and spooky throwback horror flick that makes the most of its short runtime.
Photo via creative commons

The concept of selling one’s soul for the ratings is nothing new, but Cameron and Colin Cairnes’s “Late Night with the Devil” takes this idea to extraordinary and lethal new heights.

The film follows Jack Delroy, a 1970s talk show host akin to Johnny Carson, witnessing his show’s ratings deteriorate. In a last-ditch effort to finally make a name for himself, he puts together an unorthodox Halloween special that, perhaps expectedly, goes horribly wrong.

This is a classic horror premise if I’ve ever seen one, and “Late Night with the Devil” seems poised to become a future horror classic itself. There is, unfortunately, a small blemish in its reputation that must be addressed.

During certain brief moments throughout the film, a transition card with the fictional talk show’s logo is featured, and the graphic displayed above is an image generated by artificial intelligence. I believe this was unnecessary: A human artist could easily have been brought in to render this transition.

Otherwise, this is a film that demands the attention of horror fans. Non-fans of the genre likely won’t be converted, but aficionados will find plenty to appreciate.

The film employs the found footage style of horror filmmaking that was popularized by 1999’s “The Blair Witch Project,” and this choice worked wonders. Everything felt organic, as though you were watching events unfold in real-time. There was a moment at the end where I let out an audible gasp, and I don’t remember the last time I had a theater experience like that.

Unfortunately, found footage horror films can sometimes suffer from having sporadic and uneven pacing; a pitfall this film does not avoid. However, apart from the aforementioned AI usage, a poor pace was the only significant problem I found.

Actor David Dastmalchian’s portrayal of Jack Delroy was gripping. He sells this character by playing up his cocky, talk show host attitude, and it felt like a person you might really have met in 1977.

Because of the cramped setting and story, it would have been easy for the film to fall into tedium, but I found myself gripped for the entire 93 minutes. The supporting characters help with this too; they all have their own mannerisms and conflicting ideals, which keep tension high.

This is the kind of film that should have been released around Halloween. I don’t see the logic behind a March release, but I’m not complaining if it means this film is out in the world sooner.

If you’re a horror fan and can look past its questionable AI usage, “Late Night with the Devil” is worth your time. The film offers unrelenting spookiness for 93 minutes straight, and I had a blast.

“Late Night with the Devil” is now playing in theaters.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Grant Darnell, Arts Reporter
Grant Darnell is a second year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in English and Creative Writing and Screenwriting Arts. He is currently an Arts Reporter for the Daily Iowan.