Late Night With the Devil Review: Ghostwatch tribute is a wild ride

Late Night With the Devil Review: Ghostwatch tribute is a wild ride

Late Night With the Devil… or Ghostwatch with Alan Partridge. Our review…

Late Night With the Devil is an Australian film that is a note-perfect pastiche of American TV circa 1977, with horror escalating over a real-time broadcast. A fillip of the classic Ghostwatch setup is that this haunting airs on commercial rather than the BBC so disturbing action can take place in the off-mike during ad breaks.

The fictional Jack Delroy (note-perfect David Dastmalchian) is a late-night chat show host who has always been kept out of the number one ratings spot by the real Johnny Carson.  Sweeps week — when US shows used to bring out big guns to attract viewers since that week’s ratings determined advertising revenue for the season – coincides with Halloween, so Jack hosts a live spooky special. Mystic Christou (Fayssal Bazzi) and sceptic stage magician Carmichael Hunt (Ian Bliss) clash are instantly at odds, though Christou’s hokey cold readings of the audience are eclipsed when he collapses (and dies, offscreen) to be replaced by alleged former possessee Lilly (Ingrid Torelli) and her shrink June Ross-Mitchell (Laura Gordon).

Debate gets heated and complicated backstory tumbles out, while Delroy’s tubby sidekick (Rhys Auteri) gets seriously nervy about occult shenanigans and aggressive producer Leo Fiske (Josh Quong Tart) presses for more extreme material to keep the viewers watching. Dastmalchian monologues show Delroy’s desperation and canniness even as the Devil or Nearest Offer manifests in more and more alarming forms. Reagan-like Lilly eventually escalates from Carrie to Dormammu.

By now, Ghostwatch tributes are almost a sub-genre of their own (check out Haunted Ulster Live for another) and the story arc has become a convention – which doesn’t make the farcical business of a collapsing talk show (a la Alan Partridge) combined with supernatural horror any less appealing. Given the confined-to-a-studio setup, the film goes a lot further into special effects fireworks than you initially expect. It’s a wild ride.

Late Night With the Devil will be released in UK cinemas on 22 March 2024.

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