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Late Night with the Devil

I always say the most powerful art form in the history of civilization is movies, but Late Night with the Devil also reminds me of television’s cultural power. It has grown to such a degree that when it is depicted like this, embracing the medium through film, I can find top places for both communication forms.

As a parody of ‘70’s TV, Late Night is found-footage perfection with its ancient technology and still-green performers as stunned by the medium’s power as we are today with AI—we know how to use it, yet we still cannot control it. It’s sweeps week with a Halloween special like no other. 

As the essential late-night host, Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian) is bland and handsome enough to have the job but lacks the wit of his superior rival, Johnny Carson. To compete for the kingship, Jack invites dicey guests like parapsychologist June (Laura Gordon), young and possessed Lilly (Ingrid Torelli), conjurer Carmichael (Ian Bliss), and medium Christou (Fayssal Bazzi). They deliver more than Jack could have imagined as the aud witnesses vomiting, levitation, and fiery orifices, among other boilerplate horror effects. Always, however, there is the scent of chicanery accompanied by what seem to be reality.

Late Night is standard horror stuff accompanied by a realistic set design and questionable tricks that gradually take over the theater and TV land. Brother directors Cameron and Colin Cairnes let their satirical subtext take over when TV seems to be pandering to the occult, which brings high ratings and horrendous outcomes. While horror is usually hyperbole, this corrupt TV stuff shines a light on our gullibility and greed while we abhor the violence and applaud the avarice.

The Cairnes and their cohort have crafted a satirical reality that goes far beyond sideburns and wide lapels. It also a reference to Carson’s attempt to expose Uri Geller’s spoon-bending that only made him a resounding celebrity.

Late Night is about the power of media to frame the debate and convince the audience of the Devil’s own power—just watch the current presidential election the way we watched 1977’s The Tonight Show, Dick Cavett, and Exorcist II: The Heretic. Those were the instruments of the ultimate influencer.

Directors: Cameron Cairnes (Scare Campaign), Colin Cairnes (100 Bloody Acres)

Screenplay: Colin, Cameron

Cast: David Dastmalchian (Dune), Laura Gordon (Hunters)

Run Time: 1h 33m

Rating: R


John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts NPR’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics as well as podcasts Back Talk and Double Take (recently listed by Feedspot as two of the ten best NPR Movie Podcasts) out of WCBE 90.5 FM, Columbus, Ohio. Contact him at


John DeSando