Writer- Eric Stolze
Director- Adrian Garcia Bogliano
Runtime – 95 Minutes
MPI Media Group, Site B, Dark Sky Films, Glass Eye Pix
Ambrose McKinley is a veteran, weapons expert and blind. He detects BS faster than a Piranha sensing menstrual blood in a swimming pool enviroment. When he’s forced to move into a mature community (Crescent Bay) following the passing of his wife his world begins to drastically change. It doesn’t help that he finds a claw embedded in the wallpaper of his new homes entryway. There’s something in the air, even his closest friend Shadow, his dog, would state the same, if he could converse.
When something ‘disturbs’ his neighbor his senses and training kick into high alert and the film is off to an burst vein adrenaline spraying forty foot into the air start.
Even the vet agrees there’s something strange afoot stating that “…once a month we get calls about this type of thing” and I’m left wondering if perhaps it’s more than merely the moon to blame. Does anyone perhaps have a large supply of chocolate on hand?
As well style, great direction and strong character portrayals apparent so early on dark humor weaves it’s way into the film at an early juncture too.
“We’re the Cops, Sir.”
“Yea, I can smell the doughnuts.”
Ambrose is nothing if not blunt.
Following the previous nights event he believes he has an inkling of an idea as to who or what is to blame for the areas all too frequent ‘animal attacks’. Which because on their location don’t seem to cause much concern, especially to the authorities, as the residents “don’t come here to live…they come here to die.”
Without mentioning spoilers I’ll report that throughout the film a rather simple plot path is laid out for the viewer, so much so that many might be left disappointed by its glaring neon finger like hints and clues. But one must consider this, as the film is actually based around a character who cannot see therefore perhaps these clues are for his consideration and musing alone, the film runs not on the viewers perceptions but rather his, thus making the viewer ponder upon how this seems through his eyes (pardon the pun). A strange angle indeed but pulled off with such penache, style and flair that it works exquisitely. And with red herrings and other avenues opening up the viewer may be left surprised towards films end rather than left with a smug I -told-you-so look plastered across their face when the credits roll.
As well as being a stunning example in the genre the film also explores how those with ‘disadvantages’ are perceived.
“I’m blind, I’m not crippled!” And how people treat them based on the very same perceptions.
“When you’re blind it always looks like you’re paying attention!”
The werewolf mythos, albeit traditional, is also discussed. With psychosis, medication and religious treatments for the ailment tossed in for good measure.
“If I kill you its out of love, it’s an act of mercy.” Though many still believe the new neighbor is the one to look out for there remains a hungry, hairy fella on the prowl carrying out the bidding of the moon. Naturally it doesn’t help that the majority of the residents in the area suffer from all that aging brings. Paranoia, anxiety and suspicion reign supreme and often with little to zero evidence to back up these unwarranted feelings/emotions.
The SFX and make up come by way of Robert Kurtzman and his Creature Corps crew. In essence the lycantropes on display are a wicked hybrid consisting of those seen in the legendary An American Werewolf in London and those in one of my personal favorites (in the same genre) Dog Soldiers. The ‘money shot’, aka the transformation scene, nods at a French outing entitled A Company of Wolves with its flesh shedding antics. I would’ve liked this scene explored in more detail but in all honesty the remainder of the film more than makes up for it.
The film features a score that nails every scene making those with an atmosphere only the more tense because of its inclusion. The direction is spot on showcasing a knowledge of the genre and mastery of including shots with both the antagonist and protagonist in a silent cat n mouse scenario, great use of shadows and sequences whereupon possible confusion felt by the films hero becomes all too apparent to the viewer. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the writing too. The characters are relateable, far from being traditional/stock cardboard cut-outs, expressing fear, suspicion and in the case of Ambrose a stone cold callous nature (coming from regret) and the scenes are all too real. The dialogue and character interaction is on point only aiding in the films narrative and mystery.
Late Phases does that which many films in the same genre and even those without have failed to effectively capture. In showing so effectively that those with disabilities aren’t useless (this is where I should mention Stephen Kings Silver Bullet, aka The Cycle of the Werewolf, as the two are very similar in many ways) and the aged shouldn’t be left to perish (out of sight, out of mind) it displays the strength, drive and tenacious nature of those that many of us have written off for no reason other than that they are perhaps different in someway to ourselves. With that in mind should a legion of Granmas be utilized as a first line defense against an invasion of lycantropes? Perhaps not, it wouldn’t hurt, but those cumbersome tennis ball propelled walkers, if not the constant yammering of how things used to be should surely slow those claret yearning bastids down. That is until an as yet unannounced second wave washes over those hursuites much like the popularity of Teen Mum programming on a supposed music channel.
*Wow, would you look at that, I got momentarily distracted.
A mention must be made of the films main character. His, Nick Damici, performance is remarkable somewhere between a Charles Bronson, a Paul Newman and a Clint Eastwood his is a character portrayed so brilliantly, even diwn to the mannerisms associated with the characters ailment, that its likely to spawn ‘spin offs’, direction for numerous up-n-coming action stars and the smallest of seeds that later become everyday super hero types especially in this the Marvel live action age.
In conclusion, as my editor is probably nodding off at this juncture, Late Phases is in my opinion a milestone in the Werewolf genre a remarkable feat especially in a time where little else can be heard over the ruckus being made in the horror genre by way of the zombie feature, which still, amazingly, are being produced enmass with no little to no imagination stunningly oozing from their blackened narrative pores. Late Phases bleeds style, direction, a strong cast and a unique premise captured wonderfullly well if only other directors would take a moment out of their hectic schedules to take note perhaps the floodgates of more of the same would cease and the genre would flourish as well it should.
So, what’s left to say..?
Not much, except a strong suggestion that you take time out to experience this as it warrants more attention than my words can bring. Word of mouth goes a long way so let’s get this movement started and perhaps generate a new genre spark to take down that which is already dead, does anyone have Emily Booths number?
Your slave to cinema extreme, drenched in claret and sprouting with hair in all the wrong places.
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