In recent times the werewolf has been reduced to nothing more than a sexy heart throb that gets buff and has a lame transformation scene. Late Phases reclaims the werewolf for the horror genre whilst building a nice little revenge thriller.
Late Phases begins with Ambrose (Nick Damici), a blind, ex-Army veteran being taken to a retirement village by his son (Ethan Embry), on his first night there Ambrose hears an attack happening next door and is also attacked himself, in the process his seeing eye dog is killed and Ambrose wants revenge. Late Phases lets you see the werewolf very early and doesn’t play the mystery card with it but instead turns it from a what is it to a who is it.
From the onset Nick Damici is tremendous, playing the gruff and grumpy Ambrose whilst we have seen this kind of character before – very much the ‘get off my lawn’ type – but Damici imbues Ambrose with a certain suave, classy nature. The rest of the cast are very good too, with a special mention for Tom Noonan, any scene in which he and Damici are in is so, so, so great.
Director Adrián García Bogliano (in his English language debut) directs the film with an interesting edge, its done in a different way to most werewolf flicks out there (well recent ones at the least). He shows the beast early on, almost first thing, this shows that Bogliano and writer Eric Stolze know where the story lay in Late Phases, not necessarily in the Lupine battles although that is good but in the day to day of Ambrose’s life, his life before this and his fears. Getting to know him as he waits for the next full moon to enact his plan.
Gorehounds looking for some bloody wolf kills will probably be disappointed as there is not a lot of blood and gore in the film, however those looking for examples of how to mesh old and new techniques should look no further than the transformation scene in Late Phases. Its a mix of digital and practical effects and it looks pretty damn good.
Late Phases has the distinction of being a modern horror film that weaves the true heart of its story in and around the horror and not just as part of it. If you are sick of the way werewolves have been treated in the past few years this film is surely an antidote for that.