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John’s Horror Corner: Late Phases (2014), throwing tropes out the window to deliver a fresh indie werewolf movie with a blind elderly antihero.

February 18, 2016

late-phases-posterMY CALL: If you enjoy werewolf movies or off-the-beaten path indie horror films, I’d say you should give this film a shot. Steering clear of standard trope fare, it’s not particularly gory nor scary. But it has something I struggle to put into words for which it deserves a lot of credit.

MORE MOVIES LIKE Late Phases: The best werewolf movies would have to be An American Werewolf in London (1981; semi-humorous), Ginger Snaps (2000; metaphoric), Dog Soldiers (2002; unconventional) and The Howling (1981; serious).  If you want another utterly ridiculous werewolf movie, then move on to Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985) and Howling 3: The Marsupials (1987).  Skip Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004), Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988), Howling V: The Rebirth (1989), Howling VI: The Freaks (1991) and The Howling: Reborn (2011). Cursed (2005; cliché-loaded and contemporary), Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (2004), Wolf (1994), Wer (2013), The Wolfman (2010), Wolfcop (2014) and An American Werewolf in Paris (1997) are also worth a watch.

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Meet Ambrose (Nick Damici; We Are What We Are, The Sacrament), a blind Vietnam veteran transitioning into a retirement community to enjoy the late phases of his life after the recent death of his wife. But Ambrose didn’t seem to get the memo about “enjoying” himself. He’s grumpy, brusque, and stand-offish to the baked goods-toting welcome committee and even a bit coarse with his own son.

The first reluctant night in his new home is overcast by a full moon, an animal’s claw embedded in his wall, the death of his kind neighbor and the slaughter of his seeing-eye dog. Obsessed with discovering the assailant’s true nature, the seed of suspicion is planted.

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I’ve gotta’ be honest here. The cast offers all levels of performances from good, to maybe decent, to stale–thankfully the more talented actors seem to get the most screen time. Oh, and I enjoyed seeing Ethan Embry (The Guest, Cheap Thrills) in this, even though his role was sort of weak. No performances are outstanding, but despite that this film seems to work quite well. And not because this is some “so bad it’s good” B-movie. No, that’s not what this is at all. This is a decent film that has something to show us in, thankfully, a manner that isn’t so familiar.

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Directed by Adrián García Bogliano (B is for Bigfoot – The ABCs of Death) and written by Eric Stolze (Under the Bed), this film is far from amazing but it’s nothing to scoff at either. This horror movie succeeds on its own merits without the overplayed tropes of the gratuitous breast, the final girl or the intoxicated sexually active teenager. Violating all expectations, we watch as an elderly man plays our antihero. He discovers a supernatural threat, trains by swinging his shovel like a sensei, and procures silver bullets in preparation for the next full moon. Worthy of a few giggles, Ambrose shoots with stunning accuracy considering his impediment and the werewolf action scenes are sloppy, but I don’t think I cared. Coming in with low expectations, I ended up really liking this film.

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I enjoyed the different approach to the hero, the unique retirement community setting, and the deviation from some standard tropes. But do you know what I loved most about this film? The practical effects. The transformation scene may not have been top-dollar, but it was cool and smacked of Hemlock Grove (2013-2016), The Howling (1981), Wolfcop (2014; transformation scene) and In the Company of Wolves (1984). The werewolf itself had a sleek look of its own, too. And once we start seeing it, we see a lot of it!  VERY pleased with the practical effects.

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If you enjoy werewolf movies or off-the-beaten path indie horror films, I’d say you should give this film a shot. It’s not super gory (except for one scene) and not really scary either, but it has something I struggle to put into words for which it deserves a lot of credit. Again, it’s just…different.

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If you’re not convinced and want a second opinion, read this: Late Phases: The Old Man and the Werewolf.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Victor De Leon permalink
    February 18, 2016 8:57 pm

    Going to have to give this one another go. I couldn’t make it past the 30 minute mark. Maybe I was just not in the mood for it. I have it in my queue. Got my WW fix last night with AAWWIL on blu ray but will give Late Phases another run soon. Thanks for the review!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      February 18, 2016 9:06 pm

      Well, Mark and I both liked it a lot. And I liked the werewolf transformation and practical effects a lot.

      • Victor De Leon permalink
        February 18, 2016 9:07 pm

        Moving it up in my queue bro! Thanks 😉

      • Victor De Leon permalink
        February 18, 2016 9:08 pm

        Also, the more practical FX the better!

    • February 18, 2016 9:09 pm

      Try it again! The world needs more old man vs. werewolf movies.

      • Victor De Leon permalink
        February 18, 2016 9:11 pm

        Haha! Put it that way then it’s an imperative I re-watch it!

Trackbacks

  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Horror Corner: The Company of Wolves (1984), featuring two of the most stylishly weird transformation scenes in the genre. | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. The Best Transformation Scenes of Horror, Part 2: A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985), Late Phases (2014) and The Company of Wolves (1984) | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. John’s Horror Corner: The Devil’s Candy (2015), an atmospheric style-over-substance film about evil, music and art. | Movies, Films & Flix

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