Posted in: Review

Too Late

Violet’s boss is horrible. He’s inhuman. He uses people. Eats them up, and then throws them away like garbage. He’s a monster, she tells her friends.

“You mean, a metaphorical monster,” they say.

Oh, if only.

Show business is full of fiends, but the truth is, Bob Devore is a real one. A man-eating one. Vampire, werewolf, ghoul – exactly what species isn’t clear. But he’s powerful, and he doesn’t just demand Violet find acts for his comedy club.

He demands she finds his meals.

Eat-or-be-eaten can be a way of life, and death, for desperate Hollywood strivers, and the often funny, very dark Too Late makes the feeling literal. A first feature from D. W. Thomas, and filled with comics both veteran and new, it’s a sly indie that simultaneously works as icy L.A. satire and gory horror spoof.

Violet knows she has a depraved monster for a boss. But, you know, what Hollywood assistant doesn’t? Besides, she thinks, maybe she can work all this to her advantage. He craves victims. She craves the spotlight. Maybe they can work out a deal. After all, she knows where the bodies are buried – literally.

Driving all this along is a cast that knows the world they’re mocking. As the monstrous Bob, Ron Lynch – a real-life comedian and L.A. showcase host – gets the slippery blend of faked sincerity and unending need just right. And as Violet, a winsome Alyssa Limperis captures the character’s self-loathing while showing she has her own ruthless side as well.

Rounding out the troupe nicely is Will Weldon, as an eager, just-off-the-bus hopeful from the farm belt. A few more familiar faces – Fred Armisen, Mary Lynn Rajskub – drop in to add a little extra detail to the film’s lightly sketched-in scenes. (And, as an added bonus, the stand-up comics whose work we do get to see aren’t cringe-worthy, for once.)

Thomas, and her partner and writer, Tom Becker, have both worked as editors, so it’s no surprise the film doesn’t have an ounce of fat on it, clocking in at just under 80 minutes. Scene end with a snap, and transitions are smooth. And its production design makes the most of its small budget; Bob’s office is full of antique flourishes, and the closing credits wittily highlight his centuries-long show-biz career.

Too Late is a small film. with modest charms; although it provokes plenty of small smiles, it never manages that one, big, laugh-out-loud scene that makes a comedy really memorable.  But like the stand-ups it spotlights, it knows how to tell a joke, and how to get off the stage before you’re tired of it. And if it leaves you a little unsatisfied and hungry for more – well, that’s something Bob Devore certainly understands.

4 stars (out of 5)

Too Late

8

Rating

8.0/10