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Meet The Directors: Late Night with the Devil

02 June 2023

Still From Late Night With The Devil (2023)

In the lead up to its Australian premiere, get to know the directors of Australia’s next sure-to-be-horror hit Late Night with the Devil.
From filmmaking sibling duo, Colin and Cameron Cairnes, Late Night with the Devil follows Night Owl talk show host Jack Delroy who is haunted by his past in this American-set, Australian-shot demonic possession shocker. Read more about the film and its team below

This article was originally published in on Screen Hub, read more here

Genre afficionado David Dastmalchian (currently appearing in Stephen King adaptation The Boogeyman) depicts Jack, grieving the loss of his wife to cancer and throwing himself into work, desperate to step out from the shadow of Johnny Carson and win the ratings battle. But an opening mockumentary segment establishing the tumult of the 70s via flashes of satanic panic, the Jonestown massacre and the Vietnam War, suggests that a Faustian pact may have been struck, involving an owl totem-led cult named the Bohemian Grove.

‘We would love to make a pure pagan horror movie like The Wicker Man,’ Colin chuckles. ‘It was important there was some sort of folkloric foundation to this story, without getting in the way of the nature of the narrative, so we’ve left a bit to the imagination, with just enough intrigue and creep factor.’

Directors Colin & Cameron Cairnes in conversation with lead actor David Dastmalchian.

Local actors Ian Bliss (Safe Home) as sceptical Carmichael, Fayssal Bazzi (Stateless) as spirit whisperer Christou, Laura Gordon (Secret City) as author and medium June and Ingrid Torelli (Five Bedrooms) as a young cult survivor play Jack’s guests on a night of live television that goes horribly wrong. The rest of the film plays out as the re-presented master tape plus backstage snippets presumably filmed by the same unseen documentarian.

Jack’s Night Owl set was built at Melbourne’s Docklands Studios. ‘We spent 20 days on that set and we all went a little bit stir crazy, which I think helped the film as it unravels,’ Colin says. ‘There was some delirium.’

Still From Late Night With The Devil (2023)

Carson may be namechecked, but the brothers say American import to Australia Don Lane was the real model for their co-written screenplay, particularly an episode where he stormed off his own set after guest James Randi attempted to debunk Uri Geller’s spoon-bending trick.

‘There was something a little bit taboo about those shows,’ Colin adds of their fond memories of late-night talk show medium. ‘Today they’re so scripted and polished, whereas back then it felt like anything could happen, and it did. It was a little more dangerous.’

Dastmalchian was the perfect pick. ‘He’s a horror nerd, and Cam’s an avid collector of [horror magazine]Fangoria and was aware that David writes for them, so it just felt right,’ Colin says.

Cameron reckons it made more sense to transplant the action to the US. ‘It really came down to the reach,’ he says. ‘America has a huge population. I don’t know if the devil is going to cut through here in Australia in the 70s with a population of probably eight mil at the time.’

The brothers’ love of that era’s horror movies seeps into the movie’s bones. ‘It’s The Omen and The Exorcist and all those wonderful films, so it felt like there was just a lot to play with,’ Cameron says, adding that they deliberately channelled the look of special and visual effects from that period through gory prosthetic work and digitally enhanced freakouts.

‘That makes it a little unique, because we’re seeing it in this analogue context, so it’s rendered in this old-school way.’

Colin adds: ‘It’s a homage to the horror films of that period, so we wanted to pay our respects to the style, which makes it feel more tangible and real.’

As for how ‘real’ any of this is, the brothers diverge. ‘It’s kind of why we make the movies we do,’ Colin says. ‘Cam and I would both profess to being sceptics, rationalists, atheists, but you can’t spend your lives making what are basically fantasy films without being curious.’

‘I’m probably even more of a sceptic than Col with this stuff, which helped us sympathise more with certain characters, which comes in handy when you’re writing,’ Cameron adds. ‘Col’s got a better handle on June, and I’ve got a better handle on Carmichael.’

Let’s see who or what you believe.

This article was originally published in on Screen Hub, read more here