Too Late (2021) Review- A Surprisingly Tasty Little Morsel
What Too Late lacks in scares and belly laughs; it makes up with cutting satire and good practical effects. The horror/comedy mashup isn’t perfect, but it’s good for a chuckle.
Do not expect a traditional horror movie. D. W. Thomas and Tom Becker’s microbudget Too Late isn’t scary. There are no ridiculous jump scares, no manipulative swelling scores signposting a suspenseful scene and very little gore. Instead, there is one beastly dickhead, and a whopping dose of sarcasm ladled over an enormous portion of real-life comedy. Too Late is a different kind of film that is self-aware and razor-sharp.
Violet Fields played by a quirky and sardonic Alyssa Limperis, is a comedy booker and assistant to established comic Bob Devore(Ron Lynch). She has been working this dead-end job for a long time with the promise of a leg up that never comes. What only she and Bob know is he is a voracious monster. A literal hungry beast who eats the comics that Violet brings him. When Violet unexpectedly meets hopeful comic Jimmy Rhoades(Will Weldon), their mutual attention sparks distrust in Bob. They have to navigate tricky waters or risk being Bob’s next meal.
Lynch is deliciously repulsive on and off stage. Limperis and Weldon share excellent chemistry that is believable, and the characters are as relatably annoying as your typical fame chaser. Unlike Bo Burnham, who freely admits that the internet is the Devil even though he craves the fame, it gave him, the cast of wannabe comics aren’t self-aware enough to know their lines aren’t that funny or their lives that tragic. There is a magic to that honesty that couches the horror between bloated monsters and over-bloated egos.
A haphazard proficiency in assembling the kooky assortment of characters gives everything a ludicrous but authentic feel. Almost all of the actors are comedians, and their snippets of sets and flatlined delivered conversations feel as stale as the air in the clubs. The constant parade of brittle, dead-eyed comics is almost as abhorrent as Bob. Two smaller characters who make the most of their humble screen time. In a small role, Fred Armisen is charming as ever, and Jenny Zigrino as Belinda is a standout and brings a fresh blast of energy to what could occasionally be anchored too deeply in the deep end wit.
Too Late has a meanness to it that makes the lack of genuine laughs or horror palatable. This film has something to say in between the slurping noises, fat suits, and casual misogyny. It points its harsh light at the entertainment business, fame, male-dominated workplaces, Millennials, and classic horror movies. But, of course, that’s part of the fun. Everyone knows this is ridiculous, and yet no one has a problem being the butt of the joke. The truest horror of Violet’s existence is the thought of getting a “real job.” Don’t even get her started on languishing in obscurity. That’s the nugget of genius that hides within the low-budget creature film. The ravenous beasts that can kill us aren’t really the things that are killing us.
The final scene features a disgusting bit of practical effects and a gory finale to Bob’s antics. Although the resolution is entirely absurd, even by B movie horror standards, it fits nicely within the cinematic world Bob and Violet live. It’s as satisfying as it is silly. The less is more approach to filmmaking was necessary for the budget but also served the film well. Too Late would have felt out of touch and out of step with slicker effects.
Too Late smartly operates on the fringes. The fringes of society, the fringes of fame, the fringes of comedy, and the fringes of terror. While it may not appeal to everyone, there is a biting nastiness to the story that will resonate with women especially. So often daily, we have to dodge heathens at work and in our personal lives. Yes, the scariest thing about Too Late is the bleak look at a struggling comic’s life, but that is the point. This is satire at its best. While its bark is ultimately worse than its bite, Too Late is a brutal statement on Millennial strife, toxic men, and the comedy business. It is available in select theaters and on VOD on June 25th.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.