Ambrose McKinley, a blind former soldier, moves with his seeing eye dog into a retirement community near a forest. He meets his neighbour Delores, but before they can get to know one another she is brutally assaulted that very same night, killed by something big and nasty. Ambrose is also attacked by the creature, his dog comes to his aid and the beast is eventually driven off, but Ambrose’s dog is fatally wounded. When the police find Ambrose the next day they assume it was an animal attack, but Ambrose knows it must be something else, something far more savage than a forest creature… and eventually he discovers that a werewolf stalks the area.
As the story progresses Ambrose tries to discover who the person is that transforms during nights of the full moon, and eventually he finds himself battling a whole group of newly-created werewolves at his home.
I really enjoyed this movie, which boasts a strong central performance from Nick Damici. Damici starred in and wrote the script for STAKE LAND (2010) and its sequel, and was the screenwriter for the effective, gritty crime flick COLD IN JULY (2014). In LATE PHASES he is brilliant as the stubborn, say it as it is, wilful Vietnam War vet. He really takes this role seriously and it shows on the screen.
The movie, directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano, is well-plotted, with a story that kept me watching, wondering about the identity of the werewolf.
Now, about the werewolves…
Robert Kurtzman’s Creature Corps company designed the lycanthropes with quirky, large-eared, broad-mouthed faces. I think this isn’t a look that werewolf movie purists will necessarily like, with these creatures sporting apish bodies and almost impish, furry faces that lack the long snout of other werewolf designs. They almost resemble wolf-gremlins.
But I like the fact the movie uses practical effects to bring the beasts to life and sometimes it is good to see a different take on the look of iconic creatures like werewolves, though many will argue the big-eyed wolf-beasts here stray a little too far into goofy-looking territory. However, as I liked the movie a lot, I just accepted these weird werewolves as part of the package.
LATE PHASES ends with a full-on transformation and a pretty gory showdown. With its satisfying mix of horror, humour and drama I think it makes a fine companion piece to that other wonderful, quirky horror flick set in an old folks home: BUBBA HO-TEP (2002).
Some behind the scenes shots of the werewolves…