When I was nine, my father handed me a copy of “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” by Alexander Solzhenitsyn and said, ‘Here, read this.” Rather heady material for anyone, let alone a nine year old. To this day it’s still one of my favorite books of all time, it’s on my list of books to have if I were stranded on a deserted island. The point being that my father impressed upon me the need to expose oneself to difficult things in order to gain the rewards from the challenge. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have what he calls “brain candy” every once in awhile. There’s nothing wrong with reading something light and easy so you can have a treat. “Late Fee” is the type of movie that I would call “brain candy” since there’s nothing heady about this one but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a nice and easy treat.
On Halloween a couple runs to the video store just before it closes but since the owner is having a costume party in the store he allows them in so they can pick something out. At first the owner, who’s dressed in a devil costume, won’t let the couple rent the two movies they chose but eventually relents on the condition they return the movies by midnight. After signing a contract they take them home to watch and the two rentals become the bulk of the movie.
The two movies, ‘The Pick-Up’ and ‘Demented’ are short and sweet tales that are unburdened by profundity. With a little inventive thinking it’s possible to glean some sort of moral out of these stories but there’s never a requirement to do so, and therein lays what makes “Late Fee” enjoyable; there is some decent content here but nothing that ever weighs it down. This is the type of movie that may be easy to turn off in the first five minutes and move onto something else, but if you keep it in there are a few treats in store. A creepy motel room with a David Lynchian décor, some pretty decent monster effects in said motel room, and a tale like a late night cinemax softcore movie with BDSM tendancies will be your reward.
The cast and crew are largely unrecognizable names despite some actors using last names such as Hellfire and Screamerclauz, the only person of note would be one of the directors, Carl Morano who has some history with Tromaville. Perhaps it’s that history that lends itself to the lighthearted mood but there’s a certain Troma humor that pervades the stories within. Sadly it that doesn’t translate into a so bad it’s good dynamic, the bad is just bad but there does remain some good that can hopefully stand on its own merits.
This may not be as heady as “The Exorcist” or “Rosemary’s Baby” nor is it as well made as lighter fare such as “Zombieland” but this isn’t exactly the type of movie to take that seriously. Perhaps there’s a need to approach this one as cautiously as “Howard the Duck,” it may hurt a little at times but you may find yourself laughing despite the pain.
As with all ‘brain candy’ if you wanted to be critical then the whole thing would fall like a house of cards. For those who are bound and determined to poke all the wrong places then this movie is terrible; the acting is bad, the dialogue is entirely uninspired, it’s slow and nothing more than trying to be a poor man’s “Creepshow.” However, if you’re looking for something that from the beginning doesn’t ask anything of you (it doesn’t even ask for your full attention,) then you’ll get something sweet, probably bad for you and leave you looking for another one. “Late Fee” might be worth a watch but your best bet could be to watch this with several friends and give it the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” treatment.
Late Fee (2009)