Genre: Horror/Thriller
Director: Cameron Cairnes, Colin Cairnes
Cast: David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon, Ian Bliss, Fayssal Bazzi, Ingrid Torelli, Rhys Auter, Georgina Haig, Josh Quong Tart
Runtime: 1 hr 33 mins
Rating: M18 (Gore and Violence)
Released By: mm2 Entertainment
Official Website:

Opening Day: 18 April 2024

Synopsis: Johnny Carson's rival Jack Delroy hosts a syndicated talk show 'Night Owls' that has long been a trusted companion to insomniacs around the country. However, ratings for the show have plummeted since the tragic death of Jack's beloved wife. Desperate to turn his fortunes around, on October 31st, 1977, Jack plans a Halloween special like no other--unaware he is about to unleash evil into the living rooms of America.

Movie Review:

Who would have thought that a horror movie would possibly be one of this writer’s favourite films of the year? There have been impressive scary flicks in recent memory like The Conjuring (2013), It (2017) and Hereditary (2018). But none of those well reviewed titles told a story in a way as memorably as this one written, directed, and edited by Colin and Cameron Cairnes. As the end credits roll, it is clear that this is a project that the filmmaking brothers are proud of, and probably had fun realising it from script to screen.

The story is about what fame and power can do to people, and the price (even if it is not the morally right thing to do) some people will pay to stay on top. Yes, it is a tale of what happens to people when they strike a deal with the devil. Scary elements aside, we reckon most movies would present this story in a relatively straightforward manner with plot developments unfolding along the way. But this movie takes you for a ride you’ll never forget.

The movie starts off with a prologue introducing the state of things in the United States during the 1970s. Done very interestingly in a documentary style, we are also introduced to the film’s protagonist Jack Delroy (David Dastmalchian), a late night TV talk show host who is fighting the rating war with Johnny Carson, a real life personality who hosted the very popular The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson during the period.

The documentary proceeds to narrate Delroy’s story of how he rose to fame with the programme Night Owls with Jack Delroy, got married to his lovely wife before she succumbed to cancer, and how he disappeared shortly from showbiz and then returned to the scene. It also covers his supposed involvement in a cult of some sort. You wonder where this movie is going, and then the voiceover tells you what you are about to see is a themed episode broadcast on the night of Halloween 1977, together with never released found footage. And this was the night when a terrible incident took place. You sit up because you know things are going to get interesting.

The movie then plays the episode of a live late night TV series, complete with opening titles and commercial break title cards. Viewers familiar with late night shows will love this treatment. As the movie interchanges between the broadcast show and what went on behind the scene once the cameras are off air, it is refreshing seeing the switching aspect ratios and definitions.

The movie also gets points for containing everything within a very welcome 93 minute runtime. As the film progresses, we are introduced to various guests who were invited on the talk show. Without revealing too much, each guest brings along an element of surprise (some nastier than the others), and you nervously (and gleefully) anticipate what the next shocker is going to be.

Dastmalchian, whose supporting performances we have seen in blockbusters like Ant-Man (2015), The Suicide Squad (2019) and Dune (2021), holds his own ground as the leading man in this international co-production of Australia, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates. While has a certain look of sadness in his eyes, he is totally believable as a talk show host. Thanks to his affecting performance, this is one horror flick that also makes you feel for the protagonist, although you know he has dabbled in some things he shouldn’t have. And that is a great achievement for a film of the horror genre. 

Movie Rating:

(Cleverly conceptualised and realised on screen, this horror movie will have you nervously and gleefully anticipating the next gnarly shocker)

Review by John Li

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