17 Apr 2024

At the Movies - Late Night With The Devil

From At The Movies, 7:00 pm on 17 April 2024

In Late Night with The Devil, a 1970s TV host goes for the ultimate shock interview at Halloween.

"Absolutely brilliant," says Stephen King. Is he right?

Late Night With The Devil

Late Night With The Devil Photo: ©IFC Films/Courtesy Everett Collection

Very well-known novelist Stephen King and B-movie director Kevin Smith loved this film to death, apparently. Obviously, I can't argue with that, even if I'm personally not a big fan of either.

Unlike the target audience for something called Late Night with The Devil, of course.

The film's star has an unfamiliar name - David Dastmalchian - but a very familiar face. He's that creepy guy in films like The Dark Knight, The Suicide Squad and Dune.

This is Dastmalchian's first starring role, playing a non-creepy guy for a change - TV host Jack Delroy.

Late Night with The Devil takes place in 1970s America when television's top-rating shows were late-night talk shows.

Comedian Johnny Carson established the blueprint - a bit of standup, a few sketches, music, and undemanding interviews with celebrities and newsmakers.

Jack Delroy is the perpetual runner-up on the TV station UBC, and he and his producer Leo are coming to the end of the road.

Unless they can pull something out of the hat, their midnight show will be cancelled.

So they come up with something sensational for Halloween Night, 1977.

The show will be stacked with the paranormal - a fork-bending medium, a professional sceptic and the author of a best-seller called Conversation with the Devil and her subject, a young girl called Lilly.

And the climax of Late Night with Jack Elroy will be, apparently, an interview with Mr Scratch himself, via Lilly.

Before that happens we've already been softened up with the sort of thing Stephen King and Kevin Smith throw into their own genre pictures.

We learn that Jack's wife Madeleine recently died - is there anybody there, we wonder? We discover that Jack himself is a member of a secret organisation for business, church and media figures.

An organisation that regularly holds midnight meetings at an ancient Native American burial ground. But you knew I was going to say that, didn't you?

Late Night with The Devil was written and directed by a couple of brothers from Australia.

In fact they couldn't have had more Australian names - Cameron and Colin Cairnes - and they've thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the film to, as I say, highly satisfactory reactions.

Apart from David Dastmalchian, there are no names to speak of in the film, but the cast certainly gives it heaps.

Particularly young Australian actress Ingrid Torelli as the unnerving Lilly who devours the scenery - possibly literally - by the end.

I'd recommend seeing this film in a crowded cinema - possibly at midnight. It's a film that definitely won't work nearly as well on your laptop.

I suspect when Stephen King and Kevin Smith saw it, the clunkier lines were drowned out by panicky screaming by their neighbours.

Which is how a film called Late Night with The Devil should be, of course.

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to At The Movies

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)