Directors: Adrian Garcia Bogliano
Screenplay: Eric Stolze
Starring: Nick Damici, Ethan Embry, Lance Guest, Erin Cummings, Tom Noonan
Running Time: 92 minutes
BBFC Classification: 15
A blind Vietnam veteran, Ambrose, moves into a retirement community (Crescent Bay) on the edge of some woods and soon becomes aware of some rather strange occurrences; well, that’s a bit of an understatement since his neighbour is brutally murdered the very first night he’s there and he ends up fighting off something big and hairy; the thing only being driven away when he shoots at it, but not before nearly killing his dog.
Obviously his visiting son and others living in the community think it was probably an animal of some kind, but Ambrose has experienced some weird stuff in his life and thinks the culprit might be something a little more supernatural; his suspicions nudged into overdrive by the full moon. As the bodies start piling up our crusty old hero starts digging a big hole in his front garden, getting into good physical shape and practicing his combat skills with a sharpened spade!
As Ambrose’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic, and his personality more aggressive, the local community starts to shun him and it becomes apparent that he’s not welcome there. But somewhat ironically, he might also turn out to be the retirement community’s only hope against a force of super-nature that seems to have only one thing on its mind – human flesh!
Late Phases is a well-made and very satisfying werewolf film, in that it takes a well-trodden concept and makes it seem fresh by having its main protagonist be such an interesting and unusual character. It was very refreshing to see a pensioner (and a blind one at that) taking on a mythical creature. Ambrose, played brilliantly by Nick Damici, really helps to anchor the story in reality and his cantankerous nature seems fitting for a man who’s recently lost his wife and now his other best friend – Shadow, the dog.
The film also has a lot to say about small-minded communities, about the older generation making sacrifices for the young, and about ‘fitting-in’. Also about how people judge others on their disabilities, not ‘seeing’ how sometimes these same disabilities can make those people’s other senses so much more refined.
The film is nicely shot and makes really good use of light in its set-ups. There are some nice slow-pans and pull-out shots, which really complement the story being told. Also of note is the music by composer Wojiech Golczewski who has really enhanced the overall tone of the film.
And this being a werewolf film, I feel that I should comment too on the transformation effects, which I have to say are excellent, a little reminiscent of A Company of Wolves where the wolf is trapped on the inside of the human’s body and literally breaks out, tearing the flesh from within.
Overall I would definitely recommend Late Phases, not only to fans of creature features, but also to fans of films featuring likeable curmudgeons who finally redeem themselves by saving the day, even if they do come out with lines like: ‘Look after your vegetable’ to a woman whose husband is very sick, and living inside an ‘iron lung’!
Night of the Wolf – Late Phases has been released on DVD and is being distributed by Metrodome and Ravenbanner. Extras on the review disc were a few trailers for upcoming releases including The Battery and Odd Thomas, a making of documentary (14 mins), which has various talking heads and demos of the special effects behind the scenes, and if you can’t get enough of the sfx stuff then check out the featurette (28 mins) solely about special effects, which goes into quite a lot of detail.