Late Night with the Devil (2023)
March 21, 2024 8:58 AM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] Johnny Carson rival Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian) hosts a syndicated talk show Night Owls whose ratings have plummeted since the tragic death of his beloved wife. Desperate to turn his fortunes around, on October 31st, 1977, Jack plans a Halloween special like no other... unaware he is about to unleash evil into the living rooms of America.

Also starring Laura Gordon, Ian Bliss, Fayssal Bazzi.

Written, directed, and edited by Colin Cairnes & Cameron Cairnes. Produced by Mat Govoni, Adam White, John Molloy, Roy Lee, Steven Schneider, Derek Dauchy. Cinematography by Matthew Temple. Music by Glenn Richards.

99% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Now playing in theaters. Also coming to Shudder on April 19th. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (19 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Oooh, I want to see this. I will have to wait until it hits Shudder up there though.
posted by Kitteh at 9:04 AM on March 21

This looks like it was made for me. It gives me Ghostwatch vibes. Looks like it's playing locally; I don't know if I can get out for it, but it would be amazing in a theater, I bet --
posted by Countess Elena at 10:36 AM on March 21

I saw it at the Chicago Film Festival last year with David Dastmalchian introducing the film and doing a Q&A after. He said he had lived in Chicago for years during his theater days and the very idea of having a movie on the big screen at the Music Box Theater in Chicago was a dream come true,. (And he really choked up a little.) He was every bit as lovely a person as you'd hope.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:02 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]

Just saw this again in the theater. I liked it quite a bit still, but it's a weird one.

It basically begins with a huge exposition dump, which it gets away with because the way it's structured, it makes sense. Then the recreation of the vibes of late night TV of the period is spot-on, A plus, tip top. The actual horror seemed a little more mundane to me this time (possession with weird voices, unexplained physical changes in face, levitating, lights flickering) but I didn't mind really, because like Ghostwatch, it sets it up so patiently that the payoff still satisfies. I enjoyed the James Randi stand-in character even more this time. And David Dastmalchian is the best.

I think it casts a little spell that works, but benefits if you don't think too hard about it.

There does seem to be a bit of AI controversy around the film now, though.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:27 PM on March 21

What's the gore level on this? I will still watch it because of the Ghostwatchiness of it but I just like to know so I'm ready. (Ghostwatch is one of my favorite things. I will buy a DVD of it and give it to you. I watch it every Halloween. Normal behavior.)

It's really too bad about the AI stuff. That was a bad choice. I get having a budget but make better choices! I hope they revise this movie by the time it hits Shudder.
posted by edencosmic at 6:52 PM on March 21

What's the gore level on this?
There is one scene in which a guy pulls writhing worms out of his neck and guts, so... not that low.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:55 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]

Just saw this and really liked it. I agree that it's very skillful at setting up the general comfy feeling of a 70s late-night talk show, which works tremendously to it's benefit once the spookiness starts to creep in. The kind of faux-documentary interstitials were definitely on the clunky side, but they did what they were supposed to do and kept the rest of the movie well paced. I found the exorcism stuff a little old hat, but the climax was awesome and exceeded my expectations. This is probably my favorite horror movie of the year so far.
posted by whir at 8:57 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]

Suuuuure it did. I bet a lot of people also fainted from fright during the initial screenings.
posted by whir at 10:11 AM on March 29

I mean, to believe that exact dollar figure for Sunday a person would have to believe the totals for all shows up to and including the 10 pm shows that night were static and set at lunchtime.

It's marketing. Clever and fun, though.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:53 AM on March 29

Saw it yesterday, thought it was OK. I really loved the mass hypnosis scene with the stomach worms, as well as the SFX for the split-head demon. In terms of the actual narrative, it was fairly predictable, and the payoff wasn't great. If it hadn't been framed as a "found footage" type of movie I would have had less of an issue with the obvious deviations from that format. The least believable parts were the backstage footage, which no cameraperson would ever be allowed to capture in the way the film portrayed. I did really like the acting, though.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:23 AM on April 14

Watched this last night and found it to be disappointing. It was fine. Easily one of the best of Shudder's productions but that's faint praise.

This felt like it was originally a short film. A segment on VHS that got lengthened. It felt stretched out.

I didn't feel like anything really worked for me? I found many of the characters and plot points so familiar. Surface level satanic panic demon worshipping, a James Randi stand in, a fake medium sendup, a possession you've seen in every possession film. It felt so safe, it was almost cozy? But it didn't work for me. There's one good part with some worms, but the rest of the film needed that level of fun.
posted by Neronomius at 1:00 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]

I ***LOVED*** 85% of this movie. I do not know why no one can write an ending for a horror movie anymore, but it's gotten so that I start to emotionally check out of any horror movie once the last act kicks in, because I know it's about to wipe out. This wasn't the worst last act I've seen in a while (that would be Men), but it wasn't the best, either. I'm not sure what in the Mouth of Madness kept anyone from taking a second look at the last ten pages of that script before they shot it, but here we are, I guess. That said, I did appreciate that the shot of Jack finding his wife in the bed was so close to Dave at the end of the Stargate sequence in 2001. Because I like 2001. Right? You know, who doesn't?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:02 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]

I wanted to like it, and liked it in fits and starts, but in the end I think I was a bit overhyped going in. I was saying to Kitteh that it reminds me a bit of nut crisps: I like them a lot, but if you tell me it's a whole new snack experience, I'm going to think the coating is great but then realize oh, hey, it's just a peanut.

I liked the coating a lot, but the actual story, the horror elements, whether or not it actually scared or unnerved me... it was just a peanut, at the end of the day.

By contrast, we watched Abigail the next day (today), and it kind of just goes out there and says "hey, peanuts!" and we both really enjoyed the peanuts because it just delivered pretty much on what it promised from the jump.
posted by Shepherd at 1:33 PM on April 21

I had a lot of fun with this one. I’m a horror chicken that’s doing her best to watch more and push limits, but I was pleasantly surprised at how tame it was. Good watch, though!

The STATION DIFFICULTIES screen reminded me I should go rewatch the LOCAL58 youtube series, albeit the aesthetics are a couple decades apart.
posted by lesser weasel at 7:30 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]

I caught up with this one last night. I thought the conceit was interesting and the efforts to maintain its time period fun. But I also found it a bit sluggish, incomplete and half baked. Maybe underwritten? The clips of the French documentary were underused and clunky and struck me as a lost opportunity. I found myself wanting a bit more from the story than I got. I don't need everything spelled out but being overly opaque and vague isn't the same thing as being profound or interesting. That might be a bit harsh as I enjoyed my time with it. Saying that I can totally see this becoming a cult film that some people will return to and get spoken of in the same way some of the Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson films get talked about (I'm thinking like Resolution or The Endless particularly).
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:15 AM on May 2

While I was a little impatient at first with the tired Dad jokes of the opening monologue, I thought it was really well constructed. I didn't think it was so opaque and vague. It reminded me a bit of Cabin in the Woods. It's obviously not just horror but also a farce. The outrageous paranormal demonic goings on get by on suspension of disbelief both by the documentary framing and by having the James Randi inspired skeptic there. The skeptic voices what we ourselves are thinking but then: what's the point of all this if there's not something extraordinary? It's like a haunted house giving you scares you really want to pretend are real. The movie momentarily walks back the demonic possession when the skeptic appears to hypnotize everyone. I think what you have to read in is that the host is getting his comeuppance. He's sympathetic and the actor has this haunted vulnerable look. You want to think of him as the underdog against Carson, as the poor guy whose wife died of cancer. But then you accept that he wants the girl on national TV against the advice of her psychologist, and it's clear even without the paranormal that she's been traumatized. He wants his sidekick to continue on even though the previous guest just died. Then we really have to read in that something went on in "The Grove" that's coming back to Delroy. The way Mister Wiggles refers to the tall trees. Like, he sold his soul to the devil in some kind of satanic ritual that also came at the cost of his wife's health, and now he's going to get the ratings he bargained for but the devil has a few more ways to get back at him.
posted by Schmucko at 12:16 PM on May 4

I loved this, and am a little surprised the reaction to it here is so lukewarm. Sure, the central conceit was a ripoff of Rosemary's Baby (or I guess you could say it was an homage), but I didn’t see that angle coming at all so I think it was well done and it worked. I also thought the 70s late-night vibe was spot on and it was fun to watch just for that; it had sort of an SCTV vibe that I really enjoyed. Not to mention that it was genuinely scary in spots, and I’m no horror novice. This is definitely going to become part of my Halloween season rotation, along with the WNUF Halloween Special (hmmm, I’m sensing a theme here).
posted by holborne at 3:29 PM on May 12

This one landed with a thud for me. I think it flops right from the beginning, with the long introduction that feels like it was tacked on later in a bad decision. It feels not just unnecessary, but worse, because it steals from the actual beginning of the show, and leaves the cupboard bare; the characters dialogue and acting are not enough, and they don't really get better. One of the problems is there's a very kind of cheap shallow obvious meanspiritedness going on was like a sour whiff of Seth MacFarlane.

TBH I'm feeling like my own head is splitting open to pour energy beams everywhere at the fact that this movie has a 7.1 on IMDB with 52k votes. I'd put it in the high 5's on IMDB's terms (ie including the horror penalty). There were some small things I liked. I feel like the concept could have worked a lot better. Maybe with someone else besides Dastmalchian in the lead.
posted by fleacircus at 3:53 PM on June 2

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