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Late Night with the Devil

"Live from UBC Studios in New York City, it's 'Night Owls' with Jack Delroy!"

In 1977, Jack Delroy hosts an episode of his late night show where he invites a parapsychologist and her possessed patient for an interview and demonstration. It's the last episode he will ever film.

The review contains minor spoilers!

I've been looking forward to this movie for awhile, and it finally made its way to Shudder, which is an excellent streaming service dedicated solely for horror. I love "lost footage" movies, which I consider to be a little different than your usual found footage. It's not just some video tapes found in a drawer. It's structured as a genuine episode of television, complete with interstitials leading into and out of commercial breaks and behind the scenes footage as crew scrambled to set the stage for the next segment.

One of my favorite things was how they played with color and aspect ratio. It was such an unexpected touch, but it was a great way to differentiate between backstage and on air. It did break me out of the found footage paradigm towards the end, though. There's one moment where they go through the footage frame by frame, live on air, and I don't know if that's something that they could do in 1977.

Still, it helped more than it hurt. I really did feel like I was in the 70s. Gold stars to the costume and set design. I especially loved the sliding door that people used to enter and leave the stage, and how people always yelled that it needed to be reset. There were a lot of moments like that. Quick moments that were easy to brush off but pay dividends on a second viewing. No one ever calls attention to the crew insisting that there's nothing wrong with the cameras, but it happens again and again.

There were some minor issues with the plot. The last act, while I loved the practical effects, got a bit confusing and weird. I love some gore in my movie, but I will never look at worms the same way again. That part specifically felt like a bridge too far. It was very cool and very well done, but tonally discordant.

The movie also started very slowly. I could have done without the five minute long prologue giving us in depth background information on Jack. It was very well put together, and it did a great job of grounding us in the time period. It was just slow, and it kept going on and on. The brief moments of subtle acting from David Dastmalchian, though, kept me engaged.

He was absolutely fantastic. Magnetic, even. I've seen him in a few movies before, but never paid him much attention. The movie absolutely rests on his shoulders and his ability to convince us that he's either completely innocent, completely involved, or both at a moment's notice. Ingrid Torelli, as the young Lilly, was also mesmerizing. She did not have an easy role either, and the movie falls apart if she didn't play it perfectly. Very well done to both of them.

And despite my quibbles, it is still very refreshing to see a movie that has such a strong voice and isn't just another sequel, remake, or tacked on addition to an existing IP. Yes, there's similarities to the very excellent Ghostwatch, but only in subgenre. Late Night with the Devil felt new. It felt both well and carefully crafted.

In short, this is the best horror movie I've seen all year, and definitely one that I look forward to visiting again in the future.

Random Thoughts

"The Grove" is a reference to the real life "Bohemian Grove" mens' club that still exists today. They also have strong owl imagery.

Carmichael Haig is also a pretty obvious reference to James Randi, the renowned magician who turned skeptic and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He offered a million dollars to anyone who could prove evidence of the paranormal or occult abilities, and was a frequent guest on Johnny Carson.

Also, the reoccurring owl imagery of The Grove and the fact that Jack's show is named "Night Owls" pleases me.

I only noticed this towards the end, but watch the background and reflections throughout. Someone's hiding in them.

An Honest Fangirl loves video games, horror movies, and superheroes, and occasionally manages to put words together in a coherent and pleasing manner.

1 comment:

  1. This is on my list to watch. I note that UBC is almost the same as UBS, the network at which Howard Beale worked before the executives decided to have him assassinated due to low ratings.


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