LATE PHASES, GEP’s new werewolf film directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano and starring Nick Damici, hits theaters and VOD TODAY. And the web is howling about it…
Two key elements in horror movies are anticipation and pacing, with the latter simply the heightening and lowering of the former.
With Late Phases, Adrián García Bogliano artfully engages with those tools, crafting a narrative whose close feels a touch underwhelming only in relation to the impressive buildup. In the most entertaining tough-old-crank turn this side of Gran Torino, Nick Damici stars as Ambrose, a blind Vietnam vet who has no sooner moved into the placid retirement community of Crescent Bay than he becomes auditory and olfactory witness to a murder committed by a werewolf.
After the beast also kills Ambrose’s seeing-eye dog, Shadow, the vet vows revenge. (And how! Wait Until Dark this isn’t — file Late Phases as the best film in which a blind individual gets trigger-happy with a series of firearms.) The filmmakers wisely reveal the werewolf early, as this shifts the source of suspense from an obvious question (Will there turn out to be a monster?) to a more mystifying one (Why is there a monster?).
In addition to the careful parceling-out of information and anticipation, the film benefits enormously from Damici’s lead performance: gruff, funny, aggressive, and, of course, commanding sympathy, the character compellingly entices the audience to board this ride.
The narrative ends up working in a smaller scope than one might expect given the premise of a beast plaguing a community, but the journey getting to the finish is exhilarating all the same.
A blind Vietnam veteran is all that stands between a hungry werewolf and the frail residents of a retirement village in “Late Phases,” a sprightly horror movie about finding new purpose for old bones.
Our gruff hero is Ambrose (Nick Damici, far from geriatric), a brusquely independent widower who’s closer to his service dog, Shadow, than to his harried son. Deposited in his new home, he quickly deflects a delegation of glammed-up grannies scenting fresh meat. They’re not the only ones: A terrifyingly gory first night will leave poor Shadow flayed and Ambrose’s closest neighbor chomped to bits.
Working in English for the first time, the Spanish director Adrián García Bogliano forgoes the veiled menace of his 2013 mystery, “Here Comes the Devil,” for something altogether less subtle. Skipping critical narrative beats — Ambrose instantly decides that “Werewolf!” is the answer to “What just happened?” — the plot favors simplicity over rationality with a cheerful insouciance that’s hard to dislike. Much of this good will is inspired by Mr. Damici, whose testy line readings and credible sightlessness give Ambrose’s neighborhood perambulations an oddball intensity. I didn’t see him blink once.
Matching the movie’s homely feel, Robert Kurtzman’s old-school effects produce an endearingly shaggy creature that’s pleasingly tactile and beholden to the laws of physics. And if the central transformation scene strains fruitlessly for the sky-high bar of Rick Baker’s groundbreaking work on “An American Werewolf in London” (1981), it’s no matter: “Late Phases” is really concerned with change of a different sort. Before, Ambrose was resigned to death’s waiting room; now, he has a reason to work out.
LATE PHASES CLIPS on Bloody Disgusting
WHERE TO SEE IT
November 21-27 New York IFC Center
December 5 Minneapolis, MN Mall of America
December 12 Los Angeles, Cinefamily
January 2 & 3 Phoenix, AZ, FilmBar
January 2-4 Columbus, OH, Gateway Film Center
Sony Entertainment Networks
Blockbuster On Demand
Amazon Instant Video