Late Night With the Devil (2023) poster

Late Night With the Devil (2023)


Australia/United Arab Emirates/USA. 2023.


Directors/Screenplay – Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes, Producers – Derek Dauchy, Mat Govoni, Roy Lee, John Molloy, Steven Schneider & Adam White, Photography – Matthew Temple, Music – Glenn Richards, Night Owls Music – Roscoe James Irwin, Special Effects Supervisor – Clint Dodd, Makeup Effects – Sharp FX (Supervisor – Russell Sharp), Production Design – Otello Stolfo. Production Company – Future Pictures/Spooky Pictures.


David Dastmalchian (Jack Delroy), Ian Bliss (Carmichael Haig), Laura Gordon (June Ross-Mitchell), Fayssal Bazzi (Christou), Ingrid Torelli (Lily), Rhys Auteri (Gus McConnell), Georgina Haig (Madeline Piper), Josh Quong Tart (Leo Fiske), Christopher Kirby (Phil), John Leary (Barry), Gaby Seow (Sammy), Paula Arundell (Diane), Tamala Shelton (Carol)


A lost videotape that aired on Halloween of 1977. Jack Delroy was the host of the Night Owls tv talkshow on the UBC network, although was struggling to maintain ratings up against Johnny Carson. For the Halloween special, he brought onto the show first the medium Christou, followed by the sceptic Carmichael Haig, who proceeded to ridiculed Christou’s routine as fakery. Jack’s third guest was the thirteen year-old Lily and psychologist June Ross-Mitchell, who had counselled Lily, believing she was possessed by a demon and had then written a book about it. Things started to go wrong when Jack challenged Lily to produce a manifestation of the demon she calls Mr Wriggles on air.

Brothers Cameron and Colin Cairnes hail from Australia where they first appeared with 100 Bloody Acres (2012), a likeable spoof of the Backwoods Brutality film, and followed it up with Scare Campaign (2016). Late Night With the Devil is their first international film and comes backed by Hollywood producer Roy Lee, among others.

We have had the Found Footage possession film before – see the likes of Chronicles of an Exorcism (2008), The Last Exorcism (2010), Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes (2011), Back from Hell (2011) and The Devil Inside (2012). The one that this resembles most is the one of the best of the bunch The Atticus Institute (2015). In actuality, the work that Late Night With the Devil comes the closest to it Ghostwatch (1992), a live special that aired on the BBC that purported to be about the investigation into a haunted house. This has the same faked tv broadcast look, although, unlike Ghostwatch, Late Night With the Devil did not air live but as a theatrical film.

The Cairnes brothers do a superlative job of getting the 1970s mood down perfectly from the patterned wallpaper on the studio set to the fonts used back in the day, even era-specific jokes about Jimmy Carter’s brother Billy and references to footballer Reggie Jackson. Even more impressive is when the film starts to tap into and borrow ideas from 1970s paranormal phenomena. Fayssal Bazzi comes out and does and uncannily on the ball psychic act where we see him employing cold reading techniques and quickly brushing off the misses. His fakery is torn open by Ian Bliss’s sceptic but takes an uncanny turn when he appears to channel David Dastmalchian’s late wife.

Possessed girl Ingrid Torelli, talkshow host David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon, Rhys Auteri and Ian Bliss in Late Night With the Devil (2023)
(l to r front) Possessed girl Lily (Ingrid Torelli), talkshow host Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian) and psychologist Laura Gordon; (rear) set assistant Rhys Auteri and sceptic Ian Bliss

Ian Bliss’s sceptic is clearly modelled on the late James Randi, a stage magician turned fraud buster who claimed that all the so called results achieved by mediums, psychics and faith healers could be replicated with magic tricks. Like Bliss, Randi offered a million dollar cheque for anyone who could prove that the paranormal was real. Unlike the real Randi, Bliss is portrayed as more of a pompous, puffed-up character who seems to be set up for a fall. Furthermore in the relationship between the psychologist and the girl manifesting the demonic personality, there is something of the whole Sybil (1973) phenomenon, later made into the award-winning tv mini-series Sybil (1976), where psychologist Flora Rheta Schreiber/Cornelia B. Wilbur treated a woman manifesting multiple personalities and later wrote a best-selling book about it.

Mostly though the Cairnes Brothers deliver a film that work with great impact – from Fayssal Bazzi’s fake medium act and watching the way he appeals to a mother and daughter to the manifestation and levitation. There is equally as much effect reserved for the sceptic scenes, including a barnstormer of a scene where Ian Bliss places Rhys Auteri under a hypnotic spell and things start to go wrong. It all ends on a manifestation and a strange coda where David Dastmalchian appears to actually vanish inside his own program.

David Dastmalchian is a face I have seen in quite a number of other films in the last few years – as varied as the Ant-Man films to the hilarious Relaxer (2018), Dune Part One (2021), the title character in Boston Strangler (2023), The Last Voyage of the Demeter (2023) and Oppenheimer (2023) – although none of them in leading roles. However, Late Night With the Devil gives Dastmalchian a role that allows him to shine in a leading part. He gets down perfectly the bonhomie and audience-playing friendliness of a tv host of the era.

(Winner in this site’s Top 10 Films of 2023 list. Nominee for Best Actor (David Dastmalchian) at this site’s Best of 2023 Awards).

Trailer here

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