Late Night with the Devil: Fictional or True Story?

Helmed by Australian siblings Cameron and Colin Cairnes, ‘Late Night with the Devil’ is a horror movie presented in a found-footage style that puts the spotlight on a late-night talk show titled ‘Night Owls with Jack Delroy.’ Set in the late 1970s, the host of the show, Jack Delroy, connects with the insomniacs of the country, always acting as a reliable and trustworthy companion. Unfortunately, Jack recently suffered a huge loss when his beloved wife passed away, which also resulted in a drop in the ratings of the show. In a desperate attempt to turn things around, Jack decides to broadcast a Halloween special on October 31, 1977, and give the viewers a night to remember.

Everything goes according to plan until he invites a parapsychologist and a young teenager, who is the subject of her recent book, on the stage. When the parapsychologist claims that the teenager survived a Satanic church’s mass suicide, strange things begin occurring on the set. Later, Jack realizes that he has unleashed an unstoppable evil force into the nation’s living rooms. ‘Late Night with the Devil’ is led by David Dastmalchian, who is accompanied by some talented actors in supporting roles, including Laura Gordon, Ian Bliss, Fayssal Bazzi, Ingrid Torelli, and Rhys Auteri. Given its found-footage style and the realistic presentation of a late-night talk show, viewers are bound to have some questions regarding the authenticity of the storylines.

Cairnes Brothers Injected Some Real-Life Elements into the Narrative

Directors Colin and Cameron Cairnes are also screenwriters of ‘Late Night with the Devil’ as they are responsible for weaving the engaging screenplay for the same. Reports suggest that the brothers penned down the script during the COVID-19 pandemic while during the nationwide lockdown in Melbourne, as they had plenty of time to research and write. The idea for this particular story emerged in the latter half of the 2010s when they were looking for potential good settings for making a one-location film to keep the production budget down. That’s when they thought to make a movie set inside a TV studio.

Although Colin and Cameron did not get access to talk shows hosted by icons like Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett, they used to indulge themselves in a local version hosted by an American guy named Don Lane. He became the main source of inspiration for the character of Jack Delroy in ‘Late Night with the Devil.’ As portrayed through Jack Delroy in the movie, Don Lane also had curiosities about the supernatural. Moreover, several incidents that occurred in Don Lane’s show made their way to the script. Cameron talked about the same with The Hollywood Reporter, saying, “Any chance he would get he would invite psychics and magicians and, you know, spoon benders, those sorts of characters. He had the great ghost hunters the Warrens on two nights in a row investigating local hauntings in Melbourne.”

Remembering one of the memorable moments the brothers witnessed on the Don Lane show, Colin told Script, “And yeah, there’s some classic moments on that show. There was one where James Randi came on and kind of debunked Uri Geller’s spoon-bending trick, and Don Lane didn’t want to know about it. He just refused to believe it and walked off his own show in a huff. He just sort of lifted the table and stormed off and they went to an ad break. And that was it.” This remained with them and resultantly, even made its way into the screenplay. In the beginning, David Dastmalchian, who portrays Jack Delroy, did not know anything about Don Lane. So, the brothers sent him a few of his clips, along with some of Carson and Cavett, and David stuck with basing most of his character on Don, as is evident in his performance.

While the Cairnes brothers were crafting the screenplay of ‘Late Night with the Devil,’ the horror cult classic ‘The Exorcist‘ was at the forefront of their minds. As per them, there were several other 70s and 80s cinema influences, including ‘Network,’ ‘The King of Comedy,’ ‘Parallax View,’ and ‘The Killing of America.’ In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Colin Cairnes explained how ‘The Killing of America’ inspired them. He said, “The whole style of that opening prologue is based on that. It’s basically the Killing of America. We even stole their font for the main title of the film. And it was great to get Michael Ironside to read the voiceover for that.” So, it would be safe to say that some aspects of ‘Late Night with the Devil’ are somewhat inspired by the occurrences in an actual late-night talk show.

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