Late-night TV shows were once a staple for family entertainment. Their hosts became household names due to their daily exposure. “Late Night with the Devil” (2023) follows a similar TV host who struggles to make peace with falling ratings for his talk show. Written, directed, and edited by Cameron & Colin Cairnes, this film combines the elements of found footage film with supernatural horror to tell an allegorical tale. Besides David Dastmalchian in the main role, the cast includes Laura Gordon, Ian Bliss, Fayssal Bazzi, Ingrid Torelli, Rhys Auteri, Georgina Haig, and Josh Quong Tart. The film is now streaming on Shudder.   

Spoilers ahead. 

Late Night with the Devil (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

What is ‘Late Night with the Devil’ about?

“Late Night with the Devil” on Shudder is a horror film set on the production stage of a late-night talk show from the 1970s. It follows Jack Delroy, whose talk show is in direct competition with the legendary Johnny Carson’s show. Due to his show’s falling ratings, he takes a challenging step on Halloween night. But it soon turns into a nightmare for him and everyone around him.  

What happens in ‘Late Night with the Devil’?

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

“Late Night with the Devil” begins with a collection of footage from a late-night TV show from the 1970s. Hosted by a popular radio announcer, Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian), Night Owls used to compete with the likes of The Johnny Carson Late Night TV Show for viewership ratings. Night Owls began in 1971 on UBC with glowing numbers. Due to this early success in this business, he got to sign a 5-year deal with the network and went on to marry a beloved stage actress, Madeleine Piper (Georgina Haig).  

Jack’s strong inside connections allowed him to make regular visits to The Grove. an elite California camp for rich and powerful men set in the woods. Their rituals were said to help make or break careers. Despite that, Jack’s career didn’t grow any further. He kept getting nominated for awards but lost all of them. His show’s ratings kept dropping. On top of that, Madeleine was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer despite being a non-smoker. After that, she made a special appearance on his show. But even their conversation filled with personal details of their relationship didn’t help the show gain back its momentum.

Jack’s Return 

Two weeks after Madeleine’s appearance on Jack’s show, she dies. So, Jack suddenly leaves the spotlight. About a month later, the Network announces his return. Still, the gap in ratings between his show and the Carson’s continues to widen. So, on Halloween night in 1977, Jack takes a drastic step. He plans an occultism-based show in their Manhattan studio. 

The film shows recovered footage from this eventful night along with some behind-the-scenes additions. The guests include psychic Christou (Fayssal Bazzi), former magician and skeptic Carmichael Haig, aka Carmichael the Conjurer (Ian Bliss), parapsychologist June Ross-Mitchell (Laura Gordon), and her subject of research, Lily D’Abo (Ingrid Torelli).  

Christou’s Premonition

The broadcast begins with Christou giving cold readings supposedly based on his psychic abilities. Luckily, he finds two audience members who accept his assumptions. Then, he also notes a premonition about ‘Minnie’ and a widower who wears a ring despite the loss of his partner. But he finds no match. So, Carmichael exposes the foundation of Christou’s trickery. Upset by the insult, Christou plans to walk out of the show. 

During the commercial break, producer Leo Fiske (Josh Quong Tart) points out the show’s sudden success. So, on air, Jack claims Christou’s last assumption about a certain ‘Minnie’ to be true. Jack says ‘Minnie’ is Madeleine’s nickname. Carmichael believes Jack is doing this for his show. Soon after, Christou starts feeling unwell and decides to leave the show. But Leo forces him to stop because he doesn’t want their ratings to drop. During his argument with Carmichael, Christou suddenly starts projectile vomiting a black liquid. So, the show takes another commercial break when Christou is rushed to the hospital. 

A still from Late Night with the Devil (2023).
A still from Late Night with the Devil (2023).

June & Lily 

After Christou leaves the studio, Jack invites June and Lilly for his next segment. June introduces Lilly as the only survivor of a mass suicide by members of a Satanic cult that worshipped Abraxas. She believes in Lilly’s supernatural abilities, but Carmichael doesn’t. Jack expects Lilly to demonstrate her skills to his audience. June considers it dangerous because she has already experienced the result of Lilly getting in contact with her demonic side. She also notes Lilly mentioned Jack’s name when she last connected to a demon named Mr. Wriggles. 

June believes they need a controlled environment to ensure the safety of those around Lilly. So she doesn’t want to do it in the studio. But, Jack uses his persuasion skills to convince her otherwise. Once June begins to conjure up the demon, Lilly’s appearance suddenly changes. Everyone sees a scar on her face, and her eyes lose their innocence. In that possessed state, Lilly claims that Jack and June are sleeping together and that she met Jack under the tall trees. Although it sounds like a reference to Jack’s visits to The Grove, Jack refuses to delve into it.  

Carmichael’s Experiment

After June’s presentation with Lilly, Carmichael claims it is a hoax. He believes Jack orchestrated the theatrics of the spectacle that caused the electricity to go haywire and Lilly to levitate. To prove his hypothesis, Carmichael invites Jack’s sidekick, Gus McConnell (Rhys Auteri), to join him for a demonstration. Carmichael hypnotizes Gus, the audience, and everyone who suspends their disbelief. His experiment leads Gus to the exact experience that he mentions. Be it a scar on Gus’ neck or worms pouting out of his belly — almost everyone sees it happen. After this presentation, Carmichael asks to rewind the footage and shows how none of it happened. It means he successfully hypnotized everyone who expected something to happen, like a placebo effect.  

Meanwhile, backstage, Jack learns that Christou died on his way to the hospital due to internal hemorrhaging. Because of all the disturbing events, Gus urges Jack to stop the show. But Jack and Leo shut down Gus’s requests. They believe the increase in their ratings will help them reboot the show and help people retain their jobs. Later on, after Carmichael’s experiment, Jack asks to rewind the footage of Lilly’s possession. Unlike Gus’ hypnotism, everyone sees Lilly’s possession the way they experienced it. But there’s a surprising addition: for a brief moment, Jack notices Madeline’s ghostlike presence behind him. 

Late Night with the Devil (2023) Movie Ending Explained: 

After rewinding the footage with Lilly’s possession, Jack and Carmichael start arguing again. Carmichael still believes Jack orchestrated the trickery. While that happens, Lilly suddenly starts shaking in her seat. June seeks help but no one responds to her. Since Lilly is not locked to her chair, she becomes possessed again and stands up. Suddenly, a lightning bolt moves around the studio ceiling and then connects to her. As if that’s not enough, her head breaks open in two halves and starts glowing. Then, she starts killing everyone around her, be it Gus, June, or even Carmichael. 

What is Jack’s connection to Madeleine’s death?

After the possessed Lilly kills the guests, the audience starts running out of the studio. Leo pulls Jack away from the spectacle toward the exit. Suddenly, Jack finds himself in a nightmarish version of his show that reveals the truth about his past. He is connected to the demon-possessed Lilly, whom Jack encountered during his visit to The Grove. Since a ceremony helped his show achieve sudden fame, he sacrificed Madeleine’s health, indirectly causing her cancer.  

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Now, Madeleine’s spirit requests Jack to save her from her painful misery. Jack wants to help her but finds himself pulling back due to his greed for fame. Eventually, he stabs her with a dagger from the cult Lilly escaped from. After the gruesome murder, he finds himself back in the studio, having killed Lilly and standing over the bodies of dead guests. In the distance, he hears police sirens slowly reaching the studio. Through this strange sequence, we get to see the lengths to which this fame-hungry host goes to sustain his TV ratings and return to a top spot.

Read More: Late Night With the Devil (2024) Movie Review: Heady chamber piece mixes 70’s throwback, found footage horror, and mock-doc thrills

Late Night with the Devil (2023) Movie Trailer

Late Night with the Devil (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes
The Cast of Late Night with the Devil (2023) Movie: David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon, Ian Bliss, Fayssal Bazzi, Ingrid Torelli, Rhys Auteri, Georgina Haig, Josh Quong Tart
Late Night with the Devil (2023) Genre: Horror, Mystery & Thriller | Runtime: 1h 33 Mins

Where to watch Late Night with the Devil

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