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Late Night with the Devil

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  • #16
    So, we watched this last night as the Big Friday Night Movie.

    Whilst it wasn’t quite the super-fun mindblower that the hype around it had led me to hope for, it was still very enjoyable, very nicely done, with a few truly great moments.

    The tangled threads of the various characters’ on-camera / off-camera relationships were conveyed very well, and it hits that pleasantly uneasy mixture of laughs and genuinely troubling stuff which defines the best horror-comedies dead on.

    I also enjoyed the assorted detours into paranormal/weirdie territory - eg, the allusions to Bohemian Grove, and the segment on the “what might have happened if Anton LaVey really was a suburban psycho cult leader” styled Satanic cult. Various photos and bits of footage in the video cut-away segments had me wondering, “is that something mocked up for the film, or genuine period archive?” - which is nice.

    Re: the issues discussed above in this thread however, I confess I did find the film’s construction and the vagaries of the ‘found footage’ conceit a bit off-putting.

    I was fine with the ‘live broadcast tape’ stuff (if you can roll with the idea that this was a circa ’77 talk show with an unusually dynamic & innovative approach to camera set-ups, I think everything else pretty much works ok?) - but it was the ‘backstage footage’ stuff which really irked me.

    I mean, even if we accept the flimsy notion that persons unknown just happen to be shooting multi-camera documentary footage behind the scenes, would Jack Delroy and the other characters really keep having cynical, potentially career-ending private conversations whilst someone is pointing a camera directly in their faces? Without acknowledging/reacting to the camera’s presence? Seems highly unlikely to me.

    I feel there are definitely ways in which this could have been better handled - either through a careful mix of ‘live broadcast’ footage and straight, non-diegetic fictional scenes (as so brilliantly used in ‘One Cut Of The Dead’, for example), or else by taking a full-on mockumentary approach, with the narrative elements of the ‘backstage’ sequences instead recounted via talking head interviews with surviving witnesses, or similar.

    Those concerns are fairly minor though, compared to complete collapse of the ‘found footage’ conceit in the final ten minutes of the film, which I found extremely disappointing.

    Admittedly, I’ve developed a bit of a bugbear about movies which veer off into the central character’s subjective dreamscape / nightmare zone in their final act - it’s almost always just an excuse for a load of bombastic, pop-psychological hoo-hah, covering up for a failure to actually find a way to end the film’s ‘real world’ story effectively - but to do so within the context of what we’ve been told is a fixed/objective ’found footage’ setting just seems completely unforgiveable.

    Not only is it ‘not playing fair’ with the audience, it’s boring and confusing, destroying any sense of tension or real engagement with the unfolding events, and again, I’m sure that, with a bit of thought, the filmmakers could have come up with a far more fun / ingenious way of conveying the narrative revelations leading up to the film’s final shots WITHIN the self-imposed limitations of their ‘found footage’ scenario.

    What is especially frustrating about this is that, just before everything goes haywire, the whole ‘mass hypnotism’ sequence has given us a great example of how shocking and transgressive injecting weird/subjective imagery into ‘found footage’ can be, when done well - a genuine “WTF is going on here?!” moment, imbuing some pretty standard horror movie FX with an impact it would never have had in the context of a straight fictional scene.

    Some more imaginative wrangling of that sort of thing could easly have been developed into a really fantastic climax, rich with “are you seeing what I’m seeing?!” type ambiguity. But nope - instead they just went for a particularly ham-fisted variation on the ol’ “one man’s descent into nightmare” routine, and called it a day. A shame.

    BUT ANYWAY, despite all that - for the most part, I still really enjoyed the film, loads of great stuff to enjoy in it… but for me, it’s just doomed to dwell forever in that annoying “could have been better” category, I suppose?
    https://breakfastintheruins.blogspot.com/
    http://stereosanctity.blogspot.com/

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    • #17
      Originally posted by BW Haggar View Post


      I’m sure that, with a bit of thought, the filmmakers could have come up with a far more fun / ingenious way of conveying the narrative revelations leading up to the film’s final shots WITHIN the self-imposed limitations of their ‘found footage’ scenario.
      And, that's too bad, because the solution was so so simple - JUST END IT with the reveal "live on camera".

      BAM! CUT TO END CREDITS!

      It's seems as if the Cairns brothers felt that such a low key ending wouldn't have "been enough for the horror crowd", so they convinced themselves that something more 'cinematic' was required. Simple is often best.

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      • #18
        Yes, I think you're right.

        In fact, thinking further, I don't think anything is even revealed during the 'nightmare' sequence which we couldn't have guessed / figured out from hints dropped elsewhere in the film; to some extent therefore, it's just yet another example of gratuitous over-explaining in moden cinema. A textbook "the audience won't get it unless they SEE IT HAPPENING" type decision. Again, a shame.
        https://breakfastintheruins.blogspot.com/
        http://stereosanctity.blogspot.com/

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        • #19
          Originally posted by BW Haggar View Post
          Yes, I think you're right.

          In fact, thinking further, I don't think anything is even revealed during the 'nightmare' sequence which we couldn't have guessed / figured out from hints dropped elsewhere in the film; to some extent therefore, it's just yet another example of gratuitous over-explaining in moden cinema. A textbook "the audience won't get it unless they SEE IT HAPPENING" type decision. Again, a shame.
          Absolutely, as I wrote in my post, it's completely unnecessary from a story standpoint.

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          • #20
            Umbrella Entertainment is releasing this on Blu-ray in September.

            LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL is a delightfully dark horror romp from directors Cameron and Colin Cairnes that questioning the darkness lurking within human nature and the terrifying consequences of tempting fate.

            Pulled together from rediscovered masters tapes of the late-night talk show Night Owls’ infamous 1977 Halloween broadcast, finally audiences can witness the unbelievable events as they happened.

            Facing plummeting ratings, host Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian – The Suicide Squad, Oppenheimer) decides to up the stakes with an occult-themed special during sweeps week with guests who claim to commune with spirits. What starts as a mere television gimmick quickly spirals into a nightmarish reality. As the boundaries between the supernatural and the tangible blur, Jack and his guests find themselves trapped in a deadly talk show with forces beyond their control.

            Extras:

            Only available from the Umbrella webstore, the Late Night With The Devil Collector's Edition includes:
            VHS containing the 1977 Night Owls Original Broadcast cut
            Replica TV Guide press kit with articles, ads and featurettes
            Conversations With The Devil - A 48page artefact put together with the team behind Late Night With The Devil
            Custom designed rigid case
            8 artcards
            A3 reversible poster
            Limited Edition Numbered release
            Behind the Scenes Reel
            The making of Night Owls music
            SXSW 2023 Screening Q&A with directors and cast
            Easter Egg
            BTS Stills Gallery

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            • #21
              German media book UHD edition coming in September from Capelight.

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              • #22
                Coming 9/10/24 from RJLA Films.

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