In September I watched a modern film noir on Amazon Prime called Too Late. It stars John Hawkes and is directed by a guy named Dennis Hauck. It initially came out in 2015 and had a wider but limited theatrical release in 2016. I’ve provided a link for one of the trailers here. For whatever reason it didn’t gain too much critical acclaim. It’s sitting at 72% on Rotten Tomatoes and 6.7/10 on IMDB. To me those scores rarely matter, but I feel as if I must acknowledge them before I rattle on about the overwhelming joy I have towards this movie.
The audio in the aforementioned trailer is from a 1962 independent horror movie called Carnival of Souls. You can watch it in it’s entirety right here on youtube. Applying this audio to scenes from an unrelated movie might feel cheap or gimmicky but it helps set the stage. Too Late is a murder mystery that celebrates classic Hollywood and the golden age of cinema. Recent movies like Mank and La La Land do this as well, but Too Late does this without being about movie making. It’s a movie that blatantly loves old movies and instead of talking about it, it simply basks in it.
Some audience members may watch this and think that Dennis Hauck is over indulging in his fascination, but I watch it and I’m gripped by the cheesy lines and odd characters who all have simple yet clear motivation. I’ve seen it three times since I initially watched it this past September, and I keep mentioning it to people who ask for movie suggestions. It deserves it be seen.
I will come out and say that the plot is no stroke of genius. The storytelling structure is lifted straight from Quentin Tarantino. What Pulp Fiction does in three acts Too Late wants to do in five. I have no problem with this because I want movie goers to recognize that Tarantino is not the only one who can make a Tarantino quality film. In fact, watching Too Late can help teach screenplay writers, and young movie makers a few things about pacing and placement. A few times throughout the film you might think to yourself, where am I in the plot? and then you’ll see a standout prop that helps give the audience placement in the story.
Maybe I’m coming off as overly invested, but if you have an evening where you know you want to watch something interesting, but you’re unsure what, give Too Late a chance.