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Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf
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Blind war veteran Ambrose McKinley (Nick Damici, Stake Land) has recently moved to Crescent Bay, a seemingly peaceful community on the outskirts of a dense forest. On his first night in his new home, McKinley hears his elderly neighbor attacked by something he s convinced isn t human. When the creature then kills his seeing eye dog, McKinley s thirst for justice turns into a one-man vendetta against the monster that s terrorizing his neighborhood. And when he s stonewalled by both the police and his fellow residents, he decides to gear up and prepare to fight the beast one-on-one. Now it s man vs myth as McKinley readies himself for what could be his final battle.
With a stunning lead performance from Damici as the take-no-prisoners McKinley and jaw-dropping practical special effects, director Adrian Garcia Bogliano s LATE PHASES: NIGHT OF THE LONE WOLF is a suspense thrill ride unlike any other.
Commentary, Making of, FX Featurette, Trailer
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See that wolf creature on the cover of this film? THAT is nowhere to be found in this movie. The werewolves are men in hairy suits who slink around well. Up close? They are almost laughable. Their saving grace is the team of effects and make-up artists who produced their heads. Yeah, it sounds ridiculous, but those werewolf heads are creepy and different. Combined with screeching, howling, and guttural breathing, they are scary. BUT . . . those ain't yo momma's werewolf heads. They look like bat creatures with bulging eyes and crushed muzzles and pointy ears.
The men in the hairy body-suits (which look like they could be used equally well as gorillas or chinchillas or kittens) REALLY are distracting. The actors inside try to move like monsters, but there is only so much you can do to make a Halloween-quality suit look like a werewolf. Combined with Star Trek-era rubber hands with no articulation . . . LOL. Also, the one change we witness up close is a combination of interestingly bloody new flesh mangling, silly bulges that at one point made me think the person was growing giant breasts, and pleasantly-yucky gore. I think it might be on a lot of love it or hate it lists.
So how is all this nonsense forgiven? Four words: Novel Story, Talented Actors.
A blind vet with family issues moving into an old folks' community (basically to be left to die) runs into a werewolf. Where have you seen that before? This vet (Ambrose) is a no-nonsense Vietnam war hero who has a terrible past. Being blind, he relies on his other senses--some of them obviously honed in battle. Always at a disadvantage, this guy forges on to figure what is going on and who is responsible. Love this guy. One of the best characters to be placed in a horror movie. Damici brings him to life. He's a tough guy from a tough neighborhood, with a tough past.
The movie reminds me of Silver Bullet in that there is a community of people, both odd and "normal," who might be werewolves. Ambrose uses his encounters during the day, his investigative skills, and his heightened senses to sniff out culprits. Very cool.
In fact, being blind gives him a chance at survival more than once in the film. That and the fact that these werewolves are not much physically stronger than humans. So, a dozen WWE wrestlers or UFC fighters could exterminate them easily.
I heartily recommend this film. It's a GREAT lower budget werewolf story. Both the writing and the acting are natural and engrossing. Fun till the very end. Creepy too.
First: Nick Damici (main character - Ambrose) had made a comment about the language barrier with the director
Second: Indeed, this IS the director's first english speaking film - and unfortunate for us and the ever-lacking werewolf sub-genre, it shows
BUT - that doesn't mean it wasn't a solid film. As I previously stated - you see great intention everywhere, and had this been maybe his 2nd or 3rd foray into english-speaking films - that might have made the difference. There are characters and scenes in this film that start great -but struggle to go anywhere that is fully satisfying for the audience.
First example: The character's relationship with the dog. The tension created in the first werewolf scene and the use of the dog was great. MORE PLEASE!
2nd: Severely underused characters - Ethan Embry could have had some interesting dialogue with Damici if there would have just been 5 more minutes between them at the start and and of the movie. The great Tom Noonan's role was peaked into, and made the background of the werewolf more interesting, but, his interactions with Damici were too brief, and his exit from the film was too quick. This was a chance to have a great pairing that reminded me of Thorn's and the photographer's in the original Omen. That was how good I thought they could have been just given a little more time. The small sample size seemed promising. You can have a great horror movie on your hands if you feature the two of them together.
Third: The werewolf transformation was too brief, even if you think the transformation looked dated. The background of how the werewolf came to be was hinted at - but you have a chance to incorporate an additional setting, and dialogue with more potential tension and thrill - and again it is a fleeting moment. Think of the scenes in the Howling where the characters go off into the woods to investigate, or in Silver Bullet when the kids' curiosity lands them into trouble without anyone else believing them. There was an odd dark figure in Late Phases that kept me scratching my head - you can make an easy assumption - but more of this would have bumped it up to a 4 star.
The positives: Damici is making a nice little niche for himself in horror and I hope he keeps it up. Think Charles Bronson - very rough, rugged, but with a heart - he could serve well in any action or western. The character selling plots and the gun shop owner were locals that maybe you might think knew a little more than they were leading on and both completely maxed out their small and humorous roles that were clear odes to quirky 80s characters that fulfilled the townee and local story teller. As cheesy and overacting as they were - the ladies that played Damici's neighbors were perfect.
When you think about watching Late Phases, think about a mix of Silver Bullet and the Burbs and go into it searching for one of the few new werewolf movies out there. It is a solid movie - just feels like he left some things out. I'll be interested to see what the director tackles next.
Also to note - if you are looking for other Werewolf flicks - I do suggest watching "Wer" and be on the lookout for a crowd-funded project called "Autumn Moon" - there is already one scene completed that you can find online that had a great looking werewolf.
When in doubt - pop in An American Werewolf in London, Wolfen, or The Howling. Heck, even Jack's Wolf is a nice change up.
all that, here is my opinion. This movie contains strained relationships, The aftermath of a veteran who has lost his sight but not his feeling of
pride for being who He is. It is Not the usual werewolf movie in the sense that it all takes place in a closed community instead of the usual dark
country side setting complete with Goblins or Vampires etc.. It is basically a story about a Veteran tying to get on with his life, preparing for his
death and trying to figure out his son and their strained relationship. If it had not been for being a horror film it could have been rewritten as a
good movie of a different type. The main character is independent in spite of his being blind and very outspoken. On the first day while moving into
his new home he figures out that something is going on that is not natural. The previous tenant was killed in the house and he find a clue that
leads him to begin preparation for his impending battle that is sure to come. There is humor, sadness, anger and the general mundane parts of
life. The video rental store a short distance from my house had the movie in and I went back to rent it after returning my previous rentals and I
couldn't find it. When I asked the owner about it He told me someone bought it from the store. He only had it two days. It's just different and that
in it self is nice when watching these kinds of movies. Also, it isn't a vulgar type of horror movie as some are these days. I hope this helps some
one to decide whether or not to purchase. Do what I did. Rent it, watch it and go order it from Amazon.