SXSW 2023 Review: “Late Night with the Devil” – A Frightful Nostalgic Ride!
Late night talk shows and devil related horror films are two things very low on the entertainment spectrum for people like me. Add in a 1970s backdrop and you’ve got a film destined to fail for this critic. Luckily, Late Night with the Devil defies expectations to create a film that will enthrall audiences the way the devil does to viewers at home tuning in to Night Owls with Jack Delroy. Delroy is a late night host who has always been popular but hasn’t risen above the ranks of hosts like Johnny Carson. In an effort to peak viewers interests again, Delroy puts together a Halloween special that will go down in entertainment history.
Late Night with the Devil has 70s talk show production, camera work, and cinematography that makes it feel like you’re actually watching a television broadcast the entire time. It makes the visuals seem so realistic rather than obvious CGI effects in a digital film. The characters on the broadcast and their relationship with Delroy on camera borders on friendly but also uncomfortable. This causes viewers to feel like they are seeing scripted content that goes incredibly wrong with the uncomfortableness.
The pacing for the first hour veers into the dramatic and horrific events that unfold in a satirical way. Just when viewers think they are getting to the climax of the action, we go to a commercial break. The movie cuts up the action perfectly in the spirit of late night programming. David Dastmalchian is fantastic as usual and maintains a sense of drama in his energetic performance that matches his dark yet great filmography.
The movie steers away from uninteresting exorcist conventions making it the first film in the genre that has been enjoyable (yes, even this critic isn’t a fan of The Exorcist). It doesn’t take itself overly seriously and balances cheesy late night elements with explosive action. Yet another example of horror headed in the right direction.
‘Late Night with the Devil’ Rating – 4/5
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