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Photo Credit: IFC Films

“Late Night with the Devil” had a fantastic premise, but poor execution. (Op-Ed)

Indie horror films do not have to be made with a high budget to be a cult classic or hit success. Take Terrifier, for example, a film that is so low-budget and unsettling that it has developed a mass following of Art the Clown lovers. Late Night with the Devil and all the markings of a smash hit for niche horror fans, but it failed to deliver and left me completely unsatisfying. The premise behind the movie is that a failing talk show host in the ‘70s who is so desperately trying to save his show from being taken off the air that he starts trying to commune with the Devil on live television. Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian) hosts Night Owls, a late-night talk show that receives steadily falling ratings after the death of his beloved wife. From the trailers alone, this was one of my most anticipated horror films. However, it just left me feeling rather bored.

The cast is phenomenal. Dastmalchian delivers a stunning performance wrought with greed, grief, and the insatiable urge to be the best. Ingrid Torelli’s Lilly is the creepy little girl who is possessed by a demon, and this young actress is the future of horror. Ian Bliss’s skeptic character is just a douchebag who is intent on proving that the paranormal doesn’t exist. Finally, Laura Gordon’s June is the most levelheaded, kindhearted woman, yet she does exploit her young ward for success. The cast is not the reason that the film is so underwhelming, no, it’s the pacing.

The film drags on and on, not even building tension. The opening narration is bland and far too long than it should be. I feel that the focus was too much on the talk show and found footage aspect of the story rather than the characters themselves and, well, the actual horror. I was bored for the majority of the movie, and the payoff was not worth the excruciating exposition. The last ten minutes of the film are wonderful, but it is too little too late.

Was I scared? No. Did I notice that the various title cards were made using AI-generated art? Absolutely, and it was all I could think about. You can predict the ending from a mile away, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in horror. As long as a horror movie is exciting and fast-paced, the ending pales in comparison to the overall experience.

The found footage approach is, oddly, too high of a production value. Found footage should be grainy, distorted, and give the appearance of being real. I just felt like I was watching the world’s longest talk show.

For how much this movie was advertised and hyped up, it does not live up to that hype by any means. Late Night with the Devil is forgettable, which is a great disservice to its incredibly talented cast.


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