Directed by DW Thomas, Too Late follows Violet Fields (Alyssa Limperis), an ambitious young producer in the independent comedy scene of Los Angeles. Though she aspires to create her own content, Violet pays the bills by working for legendary comedian Bob Devore (Ron Lynch) on his live variety show, Too Late. Though beloved by his audience, Devore becomes an absolute monster when the show is over (both literally and figuratively). As Bob’s assistant, Violet is the only one that knows his secret life and she is forced to keep her boss satisfied. However, things begin to change when she meets aspiring comedian Jimmy Rhodes (Will Weldon) and the two have an immediate connection. As their relationship begins to bloom, Bob begins to doubt Violet’s loyalty and begins a maniacal plot to keep her close.
Sharply written and hilarious, Too Late is not what it seems. While the promotional materials may highlight the more horrific elements of the film, the truth is that the film leans much more heavily into the realm of comedy. While she may use horror elements, Thomas offers up a vicious and fun satire on the power dynamics that take place behind the scenes in the world of stand-up comedy. (However, it’s also worth noting that the setting could also take place in any boardroom within the corporate world as well.)
Although the biggest names on the call sheet are comedy stars like Mary-Lynn Rajskub (24), Fred Armison and Brooks Wheelan, their work is mostly relegated to the sidelines. (Wheelan easily has the most screen time of the three.) However, the keys to the film’s success are Lynch and Limperis. As Devore, Lynch is at his absolute best, creating a character that somehow walks the line between menace and charm. Like his character, Lynch is a formidable presence onscreen and dominates each scene with his size and stature. At the same time, Limperis manages to keep pace well with him as a young woman attempting to navigate the backstage shenanigans for the sake of her career. Although her character is held back for much fo the film, there’s a strength of character that shines through.
Known as a comedy icon, Devore’s life behind the scenes is anything but affable. Although he is adored by the rest of the world, there is a cycle of abuse that is created by a man who wishes to hide his own monstrous acts. Hated by most of his co-workers, Devore has a reputation of being demanding and cruel. To Bob, the most important thing remains himself and his own interests. With each new young talent that he devours (Devore?), Bob removes someone else who threatens his popularity and further secures his position of power.
With an eye on exposing the truth about the dog-eat-dog (pun intended) industry of stand-up comedy, so too does the film offer a commentary about sexual misconduct as well. (Though, to be fair, Devore’s primary consideration about his meals is their ‘talent’, as opposed to their ‘gender’.) With every grisly murder, Violet becomes increasingly pressured to adhere to Devore’s wishes under threat of her own career being destroyed should she speak out against him. In this way, Devore holds all the power and uses it to his advantage. In essence, there’s a male toxicity at play within this world that holds Violet back from speaking with her own voice. (It’s worth noting that this is also exemplified by the fact that she struggles to step to the mic to share her own material as well.) As Violet becomes increasingly confident about her own importance and abilities, so too does that balance of power begin to shift and Devore’s reign of terror begins to give way.
Savagely funny, Too Late is both surprising and fun. Playing with its horror tropes with a satirical edge, Thomas has spun a story that draws in the viewer and earns its humour. Most importantly though, Thomas’ story highlights the damage that can be done with great power lacks great humility and respect for others.
To hear our conversation with director DW Thomas, click here.
Too Late is available on VOD on Friday, June 25nd, 2021.