The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Column | ‘Late Night with the Devil’ stirs controversy over AI

Photo courtesy of IMDb
David Dastmalchian in “Late Night with the Devil.”

Rating: 7/10


“Late Night with the Devil,” released March 21, brings a new look to low-budget horror guaranteed to give you the vintage thrill you’ve been looking for, but cannot escape its creative liberties taken with AI.

Directed by Cameron and Colin Cairnes, “Late Night with the Devil” recounts the events that occurred Halloween night, 1977, during the late-night show Night Owls broadcasted with host Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian). 

Desperate to boost ratings for his show, Jack decides to invite a slew of guests with supernatural abilities. However, when a planned on-air exorcism goes wrong, Jack must confront his past and the horrors he has unleashed in front of a live studio audience.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

With a genre so obsessed with the neon glamor of the ‘80s, it was refreshing to see a horror film set in the ‘7os, complete with topical references surrounding cult activity and general late-night show gimmicks and culture.

It can be hard to come by an original idea involving demonic possession, but the film pulls off a thrilling new approach through the lens of a television broadcast.

The structure of the film itself was an interesting choice, framing the events almost as a documentary similar to the found footage genre popular in the early 2000s. From its aspect ratio and overall retro quality, the film looks and feels like a genuine recorded broadcast from the ‘70s. 

There are some exceptions, with behind-the-scenes footage shot in black and white that show the switch to commercial breaks during the show. While this can take the viewer out of the more authentic found footage experience, it adds to Jack showing his off-air personality and his increasingly desperate behavior for his show to be a success. 

Fans may recognize Dastmalchian from his previous roles in “The Dark Knight” (2008), “The Suicide Squad” (2021) and, most recently, “Oppenheimer” (2023). Despite his reputation as a character actor, Dastmalchian seamlessly fits into the leading role as the charismatic late-night talk show host, perfectly capturing that on-air persona balanced with his last-ditch efforts for fame that seems just out of his reach.

Despite its critical success and currently scoring a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, the use of AI art has caused quite a controversy leading to a call for a boycott of the film. 

Three images used as interstitials were revealed by the directors to be AI-generated, which poses many questions about the future of filmmaking. Although they were only shown briefly as bumpers for commercial breaks, it does not bode well when these images could have easily been created organically while still achieving the vintage vibe the film was going for. 

The uncertainty surrounding AI in film, threatening its very core of creativity, appears to have been brushed under the rug for “Late Night with the Devil.” Presented as three harmless blink-and-you’ll-miss-it designs, the directing duo do not seem to understand the precedent they have set as stepping stones for future AI interference in film. 

“Late Night with the Devil” can be considered controversial for using AI, possibly chalked up to its smaller budget. Nonetheless, it is certainly a triumph for indie horror films that opens the genre to new ways of exploring the found footage format.


[email protected] 

More to Discover
ILLordle: Play now