“Late Night With the Devil” directors and star respond to criticism over film's use of AI

“Late Night With the Devil” directors and star respond to criticism over film's use of AI

The '70s-set horror movie used generative content technology for interstitial art, and has faced pushback online.

The debate over using generative AI in movies has reignited, thanks to the impending release of Late Night With the Devil. The period horror film, which hits theaters this weekend, stars David Dastmalchian as the host of a Johnny Carson-era late-night talk show who invites a possessed guest to boost ratings on Halloween night. From there, things get quite demonic.

But Late Night With the Devil has been facing criticism from horror fans online after social media users identified the film's use of AI-generated illustrations for interstitial art — i.e., the title cards that such shows use to say things like "We'll be right back" coming in and out of commercial breaks. Cameron and Colin Cairnes, the Australian siblings who wrote and directed the film, responded to the criticism in a statement to Variety, and Dastmalchian also addressed it in a new interview.

<p>Courtesy of Adam White/IFC Films</p> David Dastmalchian in 'Late Night With the Devil'

Courtesy of Adam White/IFC Films

David Dastmalchian in 'Late Night With the Devil'

"In conjunction with our amazing graphics and production design team, all of whom worked tirelessly to give this film the '70s aesthetic we had always imagined, we experimented with AI for three still images which we edited further and ultimately appear as very brief interstitials in the film," the Cairnes said. "We feel incredibly fortunate to have had such a talented and passionate cast, crew and producing team go above and beyond to help bring this film to life. We can't wait for everyone to see it for themselves this weekend."

Meanwhile, journalist Kevin McCarthy tweeted a clip from his recent interview with Dastmalchian, in which the actor addressed the controversy. (McCarthy also noted that Late Night With the Devil debuted at last year's SXSW festival and was filmed before the recent strikes by Hollywood writers and actors, during which AI was a sticking point in negotiations with studios.)

"The only thing that makes me sad is we had such an awesome graphics design team, and all these artists who were working on making this film so perfect, so it makes me sad that this is a story that's getting attention, but I get it," Dastmalchian said. "That is something that we've learned a lot in the last few years since we made this movie."

Dastmalchian continued, "I completely stand by this movie as a thoroughly original piece of work. So many man-hours went into this incredible artistic craftsmanship of building this set, building this world. It's a good conversation to have, though."

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