SXSW Film Festival 2023: LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL, FRY BREAD FACE AND ME & FURIES
As this year’s SXSW winds down I finish my coverage with three more films. One is a horror comedy, another a coming of-age, and I finish with an action-thriller. All three have room for growth but they all resonate in some form.
The 2023 SXSW Film Festival was a lot of fun and I got to see a lot of talented artists contribute! Until next year!
Late Night With the Devil (Cameron Cairnes, Colin Cairnes)
What can you do on a late-night talk show to spice it up? Add Satan to the mix! Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian) is a popular late-night icon. Funny and charming, he’s a born TV personality with a commanding screen presence. The same could be said for David Dastmalchian, whose exceptional performance takes center stage Late Night With the Devil.
When Jack’s show is in danger and there’s some talk about a cancellation, he decides to curate a program for the season. It’s October 31, 1977, and for Halloween, he brings in a psychic, Christou (Fayssal Bazzi), a skeptic (Ian Bliss) who tries to disprove others, and a young teenage girl who is possessed, Lilly (Ingrid Torelli).
At 92 minutes it doesn’t waste any time. The story progresses like a found footage film and a faux documentary, with mention of one particular live recording where a demonic possession takes place. The music, costumes, and production all feel as if plucked from the 70s. The talk show aesthetic, complete with commercial breaks and behind-the-scenes takes (in contrasting black and white), adds to the overall excitement. It’s a colorful background for horror and one that l didn’t know I needed.
Late Night With the Devil compels you with a generous amount of creativity and an admirable level of commitment. The juxtaposition between the personality Jack puts on for the audience and the stressed-out man behind the camera is engrossing. Written and directed by brothers Cameron Cairnes and Colin Cairnes, Late Night With the Devil harnesses an ingenious idea and executes it with comedic intelligence.
A lovely symbiosis of genres that is a treasure of a mood with a satirical wit that has a throwback style that speaks with nefarious undertones. It delivers an exciting homage that is alluring and simultaneously disturbing. There are some narrative dips in the final act, leaving behind the structure of a talk show, but once it really gets its hands dirty and lets loose there is an undeniable force.
As it does unravel, so does our lead, threatened to buckle under the pressure. At one point, Late Night With the Devil shirks its barriers and moves onto full-on lunacy. A hilarious, macabre throwback that’s chaotic and bizarre and a hell of a lot of fun. David Dastmalchian is fantastic. Can we get him a late-night show?
Fry Bread Face and Me (Billy Luther)
Furies (Veronica Ngô)
A trio of girls enacts their revenge in Veronica Ngô’s electrifying thriller: Furies. Beginnings can be brutal and at Furies’ start, we see a young girl suffer sexual abuse and witness her mother die. Now older, Bi (Dong Anh Quynh) is on the streets of Saigon when she’s taken in by Mrs. Lin (Veronica Ngô). Under Mrs. Lin’s guidance, fellow Thanh and Hong teach her to not only defend herself but how to inflict her inner turmoil onto the criminal underbelly of the city.
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Kristy Strouse is Editor in Chief of Film Inquiry, writer, podcaster, and all around film and TV fanatic.