Film Review – Late Night with the Devil (2023)

I hate using the hackneyed expression “edge-of-your-seat” but Late Night With The Devil fits the shoe as a fun but also tense experience...

The Doctor is certainly prone to moralizing but I have stopped short of ever delivering a sermon. I am a religious man, but I leave the sermonizing to the professionals. Suffice it to say that I am paradoxically both a man of science and religion.

Whether this makes me a rich, interesting character or merely a buffoon is up to somebody else. I do not, however, screw around or even perform rudimentary research in the area of the paranormal. Once upon a drinking time, some many moons ago, I was regaled by an erstwhile companion with a story of demon conjuring. The story involved a person being thrown across a room by an invisible entity. I listened politely without judgement, but as the storyteller in question was consuming a beverage known in the south as a Turpentine Rickey his reliability must be brought into question. The less said about all of that, the better.

Every now and again, however, I do enjoy a good movie about the supernatural. TNCC Chairman Cade, on the other hand, is a well versed, lifelong fan of late night television talk shows. What could those two unrelated subjects possibly have to do with each other? I’m glad I asked that question, because it brings us to the 2023 film Late Night With The Devil.


Late Night With The Devil employs the use of a “mockumentary” narrative style in which we are treated to an episode of Night Owls from way back on Halloween night in 1977. Jack Delroy (veteran actor David Dastmalchian, in an excellent performance) is the host of Night Owls, a popular late-night network television show in the 1970’s whose high watermark never reaches beyond playing a distant second fiddle to Johnny Carson. The ascension of Night Owls – and Jack’s career – comes to a head with a heartbreaking tragedy; Jack’s lovely wife passes away following a courageous battle with lung cancer, even though she was a young woman and a non-smoker. Jack returns after a brief hiatus only to see the ratings of Night Owls begin a steady if not precipitous drop-off that threatens his career legitimacy.

As the popularity of the show wanes, Night Owls increasingly resorts to schlock programming in a desperate effort to reverse its fortunes, leading up to the infamous Halloween episode. The topic for the Halloween show is concerned entirely with the occult. The guests include the psychic Christou (Fayssal Bazzi) and the professional skeptic Carmichael Haig (Ian Bliss) who makes his living by successfully debunking any paranormal or supernatural claims. The main event, however is the appearance on Night Owls of Dr. June Ross-Mitchell (Laura Gordon) and her subject Lilly (Ingrid Torelli) a teenage girl who is the lone survivor of a demon worshipping cult that committed mass suicide by fire. Yikes, talk about a rough weekend. Dr. Ross-Mitchell and Lilly are not appearing on Night Owls simply to recount the horrific event for the audience; Lilly can supposedly commune with the devil, and she is going to attempt it on the live broadcast if Jack Delroy has anything to say about it.

Things begin to go askance as the charged atmosphere of the show – and the movie – slowly builds to a crescendo, but Delroy isn’t throwing any brakes. He is driving to save his career bacon and remains determined to push the envelope with his star guest.

That is the plot in a nutshell, and saying any more about Late Night With The Devil might be prohibitive to the viewing experience, as a recent discussion with Cade made me realize. The entire film takes place inside the television studio, making it seem, to some degree at least, like a large-scale stage play. It’s an interesting concept that is pulled off with poise and I do not recall its having been employed before in anything that I have seen. David Dastmalchian gives an engaging and nuanced performance as the sensitive and troubled Jack Delroy. All of the supporting players are equally up to the task, especially Bazzi, Bliss and Rhys Auteri as Roy, the jolly co-host of Night Owls who slowly but surely loses his jollity. The lovely Torelli is unsettling from the moment she appears on screen as Lilly and remains so throughout. I hate using the hackneyed expression “edge-of-your-seat” but Late Night With The Devil fits the shoe as a fun but also tense experience.

The Doctor would be remiss, however, if I failed to mention the last ten minutes or so of Late Night With The Devil. Nothing in the film had been trippy or open to interpretation prior to the final stanza, and it was a deviation from an otherwise straightforward treatment. In all honesty, it is a direction that I myself would not have chosen. I am not a filmmaker, however, so what do I know? You will have to form your own opinion regarding the denouement. Which I recommend that you do, as Late Night With The Devil should be on any horror fan’s must-see list and will definitely lead to further discussion. As always, my friends, The Doctor wishes you all a clean bill of health.

Beyond The Pod

The Doctor attended The Poughkeepsie Institute of Technical Science or, as it is colloquially referred to, The Pits. His thesis paper "It's Far to Early to Tell" has been used in classrooms as an example of how NOT to formulate a medical science theory. The Doctor was previously employed in Mallorca, Spain as a master of ceremonies and first aid provider at local wine tastings before joining the Tuesday Night Cigar Club.