Late Night With the Devil Plot Explained: The True Meaning of the Movie

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Late Night With the Devil David Dastmalchian

Let's dive into the plot of Late Night With the Devil and what the true meaning of the narrative might be.

The horror movie follows David Dastmalchian’s Jack Delroy, who is looking to pull off a special Halloween episode of his late-night talk show that he hopes will save his program from being canceled.

What Happened in Late Night With the Devil?

Late Night With the Devil Stage

It is Halloween night, 1977, and audiences nationwide are tuning into Jack Delroy’s Night Owls to witness an evening of entertainment that they will never forget in Late Night With the Devil.

It all starts with Fayssal Bazzi’s Christou, a physic medium whose act feels like a grifter floundering in the dark. However, that takes a turn for the worse when he comes into contact with a darker spirit—one which causes a huge commotion, leading to him projectile vomiting black ooze everywhere.

As Jack learns later in the night, Christou would eventually go on to die offscreen while receiving medical attention.

To keep expectations for this particular installment of his show in check, Jack Delroy makes sure to include Ian Bliss’ Carmichael Haig, a skeptic, to vocally question all their acts for the audience. He does so without hesitation and coated in condescension that would make even the most passive viewers twitch with irritation.

The show's main guest is para-psychologist Dr. June Ross-Mitchell (Laura Gordan), the author of a new book titled Conversations with the Devil. The subject of the book, Lilly (Ingrid Torelli), the sole survivor of a demon-worshipping cult who is supposedly possessed, is also a guest in the studio as well.

Delroy convinces June that they should attempt to connect with this demon inside Lilly on air. Needless to say, it doesn't go well—the incident includes several terrifying voice changes, physical alterations on Lilly’s face, a levitating chair, and more.

Being the Skeptic, Carmichael does his own elaborate hypnotic trick to show everyone how easy it is to convince a susceptible audience. While it works, as video playback proves, it opens up the line of thought to check Lilly’s so-called performance as well, where not only is she possessed, but viewers can spot the spirit of Delroy’s late wife behind him on the tape.

This is when things go wrong for everyone in the studio.

Lilly once again is possessed as she starts levitating in the air. Her image begins to blur like television static as her head splits into two, with fire raging out of it.

The next few moments are deadly—Gus (Delroy’s sidekick played by Rhys Auteri) gets his neck snapped, June has her neck sliced open by her necklace, and Carmichael is burned alive. As for Delroy, he is quickly thrown into his memories, reliving various moments.

The most important of which is when audiences see him drinking from a cup while surrounded by cultists (alluded to as the rumored gentlemen's club he partakes in). From there, he walks up next to his dying wife on her deathbed.

She tells Jack that, "They told [him he] could have it all, didn't they?" Madeline continued, almost gently taunting, "Be number one. Well, you finally made it, darling. But you had to pay a price. Exit Millie, stage left."

He takes the ceremonial knife seen earlier in the movie and stabs his wife—though the film then cuts back to reality, and Delroy is instead stabbing Lilly, who dies on the spot. As Jack stands there in the wreckage, unsure of what to do, the movie ends.

What Is the True Meaning Behind the Movie?

Late Night With the Devil Book

The first and most prevalent message in the story of Late Night With the Devil is a very simple one, be careful what you wish for.

The beginning of the film does a fantastic job setting up Jack Delroy’s career and how that momentum starts to slow down—all while under the shadow of Johnny Carson. Jack Delroy is jealous and desperate.

Late Night With the Devil is vague, but it is referenced that Jack is part of a secret club rumored to be involved in arcane dealings. It is alluded to how, at some point, it's here where Jack does whatever he does to be granted the success and fame he seeks.

After all, the demon inside Lily does specifically note that they met way back "amongst the tall trees." It is spelled out further by Madeline’s dialogue on her deathbed in Delroy’s memory.

While some might interpret the ending to mean that Jack Delroy purposefully chose to sacrifice his wife to get what he wanted, David Dastmalchian does not believe that to be the case.

The actor told The Wrap that "[he] absolutely [doesn't] believe that [Jack] consciously chose this."

Perhaps his wish seemed easy without many strings attached. Little did he know it would not only cost him his wife but that of countless others in his very studio.

Being careful what you wish for is explored right next to the dangers of fame itself and a destructive desire for power. Chasing those two things can easily get most people into terrible places, whether they realize it or not.

One could also extrapolate that, additionally, this story warns of people’s habit of messing with forces or concepts they don't fully understand. However, the skeptics out there might not connect to that particular interpretation all too much.

Late Night with the Devil is now playing in limited theaters nationwide and will be streaming on Shudder starting on April 19.

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- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.