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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Late Phases (2014) Horror Werewolf

Late Phases (2014) - A blind retired Vietnam veteran is moved by his son into a retirement community. Soon after he and his neighbors are attacked by a werewolf. Ambrose (Nick Damici) is not one to let his disability get in his way and starts investigating. What he learns is the monthly attacks at the development at the edge of town are seen as animal attacks. He is a competent man defined by twenty years in the army. Instead of hiding and hoping everything will be alright like some of his neighbors he takes action. Working his aging body into as much shape as possible while preparing for the next full moon by learning his surroundings and creating defenses. He is a man willing to make the sacrifices necessary even knowing he may not survive the outcome.
   It is also a story about the elderly and the perceived notion that they are a burden and disposable. After the first attack we learn that this is a regular occurrence in this neighborhood of Cresent Bay. Seen as animal attacks the police are less than enthusiastic about patrolling the area. The children of the residents are feel they either have no choice but to leave the parents in danger or are so disconnected that they are not participating with their parents in life, just when they are needed most.  The well defined issues between Ambrose and his son Will (Ethan Embry) speak to the time we may all have to face when our children no longer see us as vital in their lives. The isolation is necessary for the plot since this must be a community isolated from the world. Where no help will be coming, where the stories of the victims will be questioned as those of the old and incompetent. Will is worried about his father and the cracks in their relationship eventually ends in a way further isolating his father.
  The red herring in this story is Father Roger (Tom Noonan) at least for a little while when Ambrose smells the smoke on the killers hoodie. Since he knows that the minister smokes he is the one writer Eric Stolze wants us to think about. Problem with the writing is that its about three scenes later that the red herring is exposed and the real killer is revealed. The end of the second act, so it would have probably been better if the hints about Father Roger came a bit sooner in the story. It could have built to a confidence about the killer through the eyes of Ambrose and then dispelled with a turn. Instead it comes across as a bit anticlimactic. Instead the turn is that the killer is "in the know" as he sees Ambrose return with his silver bullets and appears to recognize the store name on the bag. Then things get interesting for the climax as the community is transformed for the final scenes. It makes the most out of the approach, where on one hand the reveal could have been more deceptive Stolze still turns the table a bit with an unconventional plan by the werewolf.
  Its a wonderful ending that this film pulls off, unexpected in scope and with nice effects. It is said of werewolf films that if you don't show at least one transformation then you have failed. This film does not fail although the length and action of the climax are limited by the handicap of the main character. Concern for his neighbors could be Ambrose's undoing in the final scenes of this film. The hilarity of the security guard's reaction to seeing a werewolf is very enjoyable and totally within character. The wonderfully ridiculous but at the same time believable final fight scenes between Ambrose and beasts could have been longer.
   Yes a blind man can fight back, of course we learned that the blind are not helpless years before with Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark, but still she did not fight a werewolf.  Sacrifice again come to the forefront and when all is said and done the viewer is left feeling like they saw a well crafted film. Well executed by one of my favorite directors Adrain Garcia Bogliano (Cold Sweat, Here Comes the Devil) who keeps the pacing lively and hits all the right beats.The acting is solid with lead Nick Damici pulling off playing older than he is. Certainly they needed an actor with the physical ability to deal with the role and in Damici (Stake Land, We Are What We Are) they got that (since Jack Palance is dead). Ethan Embry (The Guest, Cheap Thrills) also is good as the son with so many things to worry about when it comes to his father. Also of note is Noonan (More wonderful films than can be mentioned here.) who is a professional, competent presence and Lance Guest as the somewhat tortured soul and main bad guy.
  So a recommendation for this film not the most perfect but certainly very enjoyable werewolf story. 

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