Movie Review: Late Phases (2014)
Tue Feb 04, 2020 · 668 words

Director: Adrián García Bogliano. Starring: Nick Damici, Ethan Embry, Lance Guest. Running time: 95 minutes.

Ambrose McKinley - a blind war veteran - moves into a retirement community. He gets attacked by a werewolf. Then he buys some silver bullets and kills all the werewolves.

Sorry for spoiling the movie, but I'm honestly doing you a favor.

I used to love werewolf movies as a kid. The suspense of not knowing who it was, the anticipation of the next full moon, the origin story of the beast, chases in creepy woods, villagers with pitchforks. You will find none of that here. Instead, our hero gets attacked on the first night after moving in and pretty much figures out the whole deal shortly after. Yes, he's a weapons expert of above average intelligence, but you get a feeling like he was on a special mission in Vietnam hunting for werewolves.

I was worried they would pull some cheap tricks with the fact that he's blind, for example showing the audience something that he can't see, but it turns out I was totally overestimating the script. The blindness is actually of zero consequence - it's like they thought it would be cool to have a blind protagonist, but then kind of forgot to do anything with it.

Werewolves are tragic characters - robbed of free will, banished from their community and often completely unaware of their condition. They don't want to kill, but can't help themselves making them in some ways even more of a victim than their victims. Unlike vampires, werewolves are not actually evil. Vampires still have a semblance of free will - they can choose their victim and they know they're a vampire. The best werewolf movies make you feel sorry for the monster. But there's none of that subtlety here.

The tone of the film is all over the place. It starts out as a sombre drama with our hero picking out a headstone, then suddenly jumps to horror schlock, then an unfunny horror comedy, then back to drama. The characters don't make any sense. The dialog is as wooden as the cinematography and everything has been color graded with an annoying sepia-like tint. After the first attack we find out that this has been going on for years, always once a month. Yet the police are still convinced it's just an animal from the nearby woods and tell the residents to lock their doors. Never mind that the beast had just come through a locked door and jumped through a sealed window. There's a security guard, but the police never talk to him, but I guess he was there for some unfunny comedic relief anyway. This would all be fine if it was a deliberate horror comedy, but it's obviously not.

There could have been a much better film here had they given some more depth and motivation to the characters. For instance, instead of killing off his new neighbor Delores within the first 10 minutes, make her the love interest giving Ambrose a motivation to fight the monsters. “People don't come here to live - they come here to die” is a poignant line about a retirement community. What if the werewolf character disagreed and was actually looking for eternal life? Would anyone want to live forever as a 75 year-old? That would have been a much more meaningful backstory than “I went hunting for the monster and it bit me”.

It's hard to find positives in this shit fest, but I thought the leading role was pretty convincing. It was also nice to see Tom Noonan (as Father Roger Smith) again - I will forever remember him as the evil Cain from RoboCop 2. Even though the werewolf costumes looked ridiculous, I thought the one transformation scene was done quite effectively. I was sure it was going to be some terrible CGI blur, but it was done with practical effects, so thumbs up for subverting my expectations twice. Oh, and it was short.

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