Is It OK to Watch Late Night With the Devil?

(Even though it uses AI art.)

IFC Films

On April 18, beloved indie studio A24 made a major unforced error. Hot off the release of Civil War and its biggest box office opening weekend ever, the company shared some new poster art for the movie on Instagram. The problem? The images were seemingly generated by AI, showing scenes that don’t exist in the actual film at all, complete with the telltale mistakes of an AI artist.

A24 has yet to confirm or comment on this news (at least as I’m writing this article), but it raises a larger issue about AI and cinema. Is it ever OK for movies to use AI art? And should we boycott the movies that do?

This AI poster for Civil War has almost nothing to do with the actual movie. But I would totally watch this movie about the U.S. military fighting a giant swan.


Civil War doesn’t actually include any AI imagery in the movie itself (as far as we know), but another indie film made headlines recently for doing just that. Late Night With the Devil, a new horror movie starring David Dastmalchian, infamously uses AI art several times as interstitial images. It’s also a fantastic movie and it’s streaming now on the horror platform Shudder. But given the controversy brewing, you may be wondering if it’s OK to watch Late Night With the Devil. I don’t have the answer, but I do think it’s a question worth unpacking.

Late Night With the Devil stars Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy, a late-night TV host in the 1970s who’s dangerously close to losing the ratings wars — and his job. In a bid to win back viewers, he plans a Halloween episode featuring a girl who claims to be possessed by an actual demon.

The movie is presented as found footage. After a brief, documentary-style introduction, we’re shown the lost tape of that fateful episode intercut with behind-the-scenes footage that shows what happened onstage during commercial breaks. This format works remarkably well, although as supernatural events begin to occur and reality threatens to break, the rules of found footage sometimes seem to break as well. It’s often unclear whether what we’re seeing is actually what happened or merely what’s in Jack Delroy’s head. But that never really hurts the experience.

One of the AI images featured in Late Night With the Devil.

IFC Films

As for the AI of it all, the movie features three AI-generated images that appear onscreen when the show cuts to commercial break. The film’s creators confirmed to Variety that AI was used, while arguing that it’s insignificant to the rest of the experience. Meanwhile, in an interview with entertainment journalist Kevin McCarthy, Dastmalchian said simply, “It’s an important conversation. We gotta have it.” While he expressed disappointment that this controversy is eclipsing the movie, he didn’t exactly express regret over the original decision. (He also noted that the AI images were touched up by a human artist.)

Some critics have suggested that ahead of the movie’s streaming release, the AI art should be redone by an actual human. After all, editing new images in should be easy, right? But the version of the movie I watched via a screener link ahead of the Shudder premiere still includes the AI art. (Inverse reached out to a PR rep to confirm the movie hasn’t been changed, but did not receive a response.) I’d also hoped to ask Dastmalchian directly about the issue, but our interview has been pushed back (presumably because he’s busy filming a new show for Apple, not because he’s dodging my questions).

So with all of the above in mind, should you watch Late Night With the Devil, either on Shudder or elsewhere? In my opinion, the answer is yes. It’s an excellent movie that pushes the limits of its genre, features some incredible acting, and includes one of the best gross-out horror sequences I’ve seen in years (I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that it features... worms). That said, it’s still important that issues like this one and Civil War’s fake posters get called out. We can enjoy good movies and still take a stand against creeping AI slop. We can have our artificially intelligent cake and eat it, too. At least for now.

Late Night With the Devil is streaming now on Shudder.

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