Friday, 20 March 2015

March Monsters: Late Phases (2014)

Late Phases (2014)
Director: Adrián García Boglianor
Starring: Nick Damici, Ethan Embry, and Lance Guest
Running Time: 95 min

  There seems to be a boom in werewolf movies lately, there have been like 3 this month that have a decent storylines and look viciously fun.  I've only seen director's Adrián García Boglianor work on "ABC's of Death", but he seems to have an extensive back catalog that I may have to sift through if this is good.  Also, there are some familiar faces in this as well, like Nick Damici (Stakeland), Lance Guest (The Last Starfighter), Tom Noonan (House of the Devil) and the ever gorgeous Tina Louise (Giligan's Island).  This looks like it will be a howl, full moon or not.

  A blind vet, Ambrose is being driven to a retirement village by his son, Will.  Ambrose is a gruff, crotchety old man who isn't crazy about his new home but knows that it will probably be better for him.  When they get there Will drops him off and looks around the house, while Ambrose explores and finds himself wandering next door to his neighbours garage sale.  Ambrose introduces himself to his new neighbor Delores and lets her know that although he can't see her, that she smells beautiful.  Delores is charmed by Ambrose and they start chatting it up but this is interrupted by Will, who needs for his father to come back inside and help with the movers.  Ambrose excuses himself and goes inside.  Later on, once Will is gone and while Ambrose is cleaning his gun, some other neighbors drop by to welcome him to the neighborhood.  Ambrose is really gruff with these ladies and leaves a bad impression but Ambrose doesn't give a fuck and continues to clean his guns.
  That night, Ambrose and his dog notice a weird smell in the house and area and then he hears screaming from Delores house.  Unbeknownst to him, Delores is being attacked by a werewolf and Ambrose puts his head against the wall asking her what's wrong and if she needs any help.  The werewolf hits the wall, knocking Ambrose off his feet.  Once the werewolf is done with Delores, he comes over to Ambrose's place for desert.  Luckily, Ambrose's dog attacks the monster and gives his life to save Ambrose and to get rid of the monster. Unfortunately, Will forgot to set up a phone in Ambrose's house and Ambrose sits there with his dead friend until help arrives.
  When the police finally come the next day, Ambrose and Will learn that these kind of animal attacks happen all the time in this residential area and that there was a number of animal attacks over the years, especially during the full moon.  Ambrose asks if last night was a full moon and the police tell him that it was.  Ambrose starts putting two and two together and asks his son when the next full moon is, which Will replies in a month.  Can Ambrose find out who in the neighborhood is the werewolf and will he be able to stop them before the next full moon or will Ambrose become yet selection in this buffet for this carnivorous beast?

  This was really good and the special effects were done exceptionally well.  I like that director Adrián García Boglianor (Here Comes the Devil, Penumbra) gets down to horror business right away int the first act and sets up this cool mystery/revenge plot for Ambrose to work through.   I, also like that Boglianor moves away from the horror protagonist mold, teen girl, nerdy guy..., and focuses on the capability and resourcefulness of two overlooked and sometimes abandoned segments of society, the elderly and people who are sight challenged.  Ambrose may be blind and a little bit older but he is still tough as nails and ain't going to take any shit from that werewolf mofo, which is very refreshing.
  And Nick Damici (Stakeland, We Are What We Are) who plays Ambrose,  his performance is what really drives this whole film.  Although he said he had a difficult time with the blind element, even saying that you "can't just blindfold yourself to learn because it doesn’t work that way. Even when you’re blindfold you’re seeing more than a blind person sees. I just had to do it looking peripherally and trusting Adrian that it came off okay.", Damici's execution of the character was fantastic.  He shows a lot of range near the beginning and around the end with not only battling a werewolf but coming to terms with his relationship with his son.  Don't start groaning, it's not all Dr. Phil and shit but it does leave you with a touch of sadness.
  Also, as I mention earlier the special effects team on this should be really commended because this/these werewolves looked great.  The have kind of a retro look to them but with a more up to date mobility, does that make sense?  Sure it does, anyway they look really great and there is also an impressive transformation scene in this film that should not be missed by any horror fan.  It's face rippingly awesome! 

  Issues, well I've said it once and I know I've it a million times, but horror movie cops need to be dumb and refuse to have any belief in the super natural.  However in this film, it pushes the boundary of thinking a little too far.  The police characters almost spell w e r e w o l f out, by saying that old people at this retirement get attack by animals the most on the full moon.  Nobody has looked into this before?  Old people are smart and I don't think a safety issue like this would have been that overlooked for this long a period.  This part of the premise could have been massaged and work into the story a little better, because it takes away from the film for me, it just doesn't ring true
  Also, I found the second act does get a little dry while we wait for the next full moon.  After the first act being some intense and cool, it's hard to get settled back into a building lull.  Boglianor does use some humour and a decent sub-plot to negate the most of the dryness of the build but the film does linger at times.

  With that said, the film as a whole is still pretty great and one of the better werewolf movies that I've seen in a while.  Great story concept, amazing special effects and Nick Damici kills it in this film as the lead character.  So, if you're looking for a film to transform your evening into something terrifying and howling, put your hairy mitts on this and don't look back.

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