by Brandon Thomas
Horror comedy is the cinematic equivalent of chocolate and peanut butter. It makes so much sense that they go together. And every subgenre of horror has been touched. The slasher? Multiple times! Zombies? Oh yeah. Podcasters turned into sea creatures? Umm…that too. With Too Late, director D.W. Thomas adds bad bosses to the mix, and also the world of stand-up comedy.
Aspiring comedian Violet (Alyssa Limperis) has what seems to be a great gig as the assistant to comedy great Bob Devore (Ron Lynch). Devore’s weekly variety act Too Late is legendary, and Violet’s job makes her the envy of her comic friends. The problem? Bob is a literal monster, and Violet is in charge of bringing young, fresh-faced comics to satisfy his hunger.
Thomas leans harder into the comedy than she does the horror. The tone is kept quite light throughout, and Bob’s more ghoulish moments are hidden off-screen (probably due to budget concerns). The make-up effects used on Lynch are quite good, but never come across as too grotesque. It’s just enough to get the point across and let Lynch’s performance shine through.
Too Late draws a lot from the real world in constructing its story. For years, Lynch hosted a variety show of his own in L.A. called Tomorrow! The film also peppers in real-life comedians who help with authenticity. And authenticity is key here. The strength of Too Late is how natural everything feels. Some of the more elaborate digs at the stand-up world might be a little too “inside baseball” for most of the audience, but it’s still relatable enough to be more of a winking satire.
The cast is universally good. Limperis is fantastic as the long-suffering Violet. It’s the kind of role that could’ve easily gotten bogged down with “woe is me” speeches and attitude, but Limperis, like the film itself, keeps things light and snappy. You can see the burgeoning comic underneath the stressed-out and overworked assistant. Likewise, Lynch is an absolute delight as Bob Devore. He never hams it up during Bob’s transformation. Bob is as much of a monstrous asshole when he’s a regular person as he is when he’s in his creature form.
SNL alum Fred Armisen and notable stand-up Mary Lynn Rajskub show up in small parts as the “names” of the film. Rajskub’s appearance is more of a glorified cameo with Armisen having a more significant role. Neither makes much of an impact on the overall film, but it’s nice to see them, both adding value to an already wonderful film.
Through charming performances and a look at a more niche part of the entertainment industry, Too Late stands out as one of the better horror comedies in recent memory. It’s not a gut buster, but you’ll have a smile on your face the entire time.