Review: “Late Night with the Devil”

3 min read

By Hannah Smith ’26

Staff Writer

One of the latest films to enter the streaming scene is Cameron and Colin Cairnes’ “Late Night with the Devil.” This low-budget, indie found footage horror film is set in a late night television program in the 1970s, in which the host gets in over his head when he brings a young possessed girl who was a victim of a Satanic cult onto his show on Halloween night. It stars David Dastmalchian, an actor most known for playing villains in many films, including “The Dark Knight,” “Prisoners,” “Oppenheimer,” “Dune” and “Bird Box.” However, in “Late Night with the Devil,” he plays a genuinely charming late night television host and, shockingly, I was not horrified by him for the first time in his entire filmography.

“Late Night with the Devil” pulls on many great horror films from the past, including “The Exorcist,” “Eyes Wide Shut,” Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Thing,” “They Live,” “The Conjuring,” “Poltergeist,” “Scanners” and so many more. But the movie most akin to this film is “Ghostwatch,” a mockumentary horror film showing a BBC reporting team at a haunted house who attempt to discover the truth behind it all, and of course, they lose control. “Late Night with the Devil” is very similar to this, but both are completely original in their own regard.

This whole film is centered around 1970s culture, like the Satanic Panic, late night television, and the Warrens and Amityville, two of horror’s most legendary stories. The costuming, music and special effects are just cheesy enough to be perfect and terrifying. The third act is wildly unique and is a complete 180 degree turn from the rest of the film. I will not go into further detail because I believe you should go into this film blind, but I will say it focuses heavily on themes like fame, paranoia and deterioration.

Since the film was released, there has been criticism towards the filmmakers for their use of artificial intelligence in the cutaway images used to represent the end of the commercial breaks in the film. This film came out during the SAG-AFTRA strike against the use of AI in films. While “Late Night With the Devil” came out in Australia by Australian filmmakers, the debate about AI has become a worldwide topic, so many viewers and critics voiced their opinions about the film’s use of AI throughout the press tour.

To defend themselves, the directors tried to express the level of “low-budget” they were working with; in an interview with Letterboxd, the directors stated, “Our producers also happened to be our VFX artists and graphic designers. That’s how small and tight that, you know, our little family is.” Most of the criticism is not about the amount of AI used in the film, because in actuality, it hardly even makes up 10 seconds of the entire film. It is about the fact that AI is being used and could potentially lead to what is being called “slippery slope absolutism.” Using AI for even the simplest jobs is still one more job being taken away from real people. The Cairneses understand where people are coming from and stand with SAG-AFTRA in their fight against the AI takeover; they just want to emphasize how small their production was and how this use of AI was just one more tool they used to get their film to the finish line.

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