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‘Late Night with the Devil’ AI Usage Sparks Debate: Fair or Foul?

Turns out the real demon in indie horror film “Late Night With the Devil” is its use of AI.

The IFC Films/Shudder release utilized artificial intelligence for a trio of still images — title cards, specifically — intended to enhance the ’70s aesthetic, according to the film’s directors Cameron and Colin Cairnes. That has not gone over well within the creative community on X (formerly known as Twitter).

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“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 brothers told Variety. “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.”

“Late Night with the Devil” stars David Dastmalchian as a talk-show host who films a live Satanic event during his 1977 broadcast. David Ehrlich’s IndieWire review called the film a “clever and cheeky found-footage horror movie” that included “glorious Rob Bottin-esque practical effects.”

If only the entirety of the film was done so practically.

Film journalist Rendy Jones tweeted, “There’s no excuse for LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL to be using AI art especially since it had all this time between sxsw 2023 to now to hire a graphic artist. However going ham boycotting an indie over it seems harsh. Like where was this vitriol hate when Marvel did it last year?”

The film critic Eric Sneider pointed to the fact that “Late Night with the Devil” was made in 2022 prior to AI being a tentpole issue in the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. And filmmaker Justin LaLiberty sees no practical purpose to boycotting an indie film over its sin.

“I spent enough of my life working in movie theaters and film distribution to know that boycotting LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL isn’t going to accomplish anything but making indie films, especially genre, harder to see in theaters — no excuse for AI, but those changes come elsewhere,” LaLiberty said.

The film’s star Dastmalchian told journalist Kevin McCarthy that the backlash to the use of AI in the film is a “sad” development that undermines the work of the crafts team.

“It was a couple of years ago and I remember looking at them and it’s awesome…The only thing that makes me sad is that we had such an awesome graphics design team and all the artists were working on making this film so perfect, so it makes me sad that that’s a story that’s getting attention. But I get it,” Dastmalchian said. “I’m absolutely in a place right now where that is something that we’ve learned so much about in the last few years since we made this movie.”

Dastmalchian recalled seeing AI being used at the time for the film, implying it was a tool that the graphic artists worked alongside to create the title-card images.

“This was brand new stuff and it was like, ‘Oh look, this thing generated an image and now our artists are doing it,'” Dastmalchian said.

Of the Carines’ statement, Dastmalchian said: “So I think they said it really well, and I stand by what they said and I completely stand by this movie as a thoroughly original piece of work that so many man hours went into this incredible artistic craftsmanship to be set in this world. So it’s a good conversation to have. It’s an important conversation. We’ve got to have it.”

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