When it comes to werewolf films, the world has been sorely lacking. Aside from the film Wer (which I haven’t seen, so I can’t comment on) the last great werewolf film was 2002’s Dog Soldiers. Since then we’ve had to suffer through or, if you’re a more intelligent person than myself, avoid the likes of Skinwalkers, Underworld, the Twilight films (Team Jacob ftw), or the Wolfman remake. Late Phases is an underdog in the battle against romanticized werewolves with rock-hard abs, helping to bring the subgenre back to a simpler time when the beasts were both fun and terrifying.
The story follows Ambrose, (played by an unblinking Nick Damici, Stakeland, We Are What We Are remake) a Vietnam War vet that has lost his vision in the years following the war. Ambrose, who is equal parts stubborn and badass, moves into a gated community for the elderly and is attacked by a werewolf the first night.
The werewolf of the film is clearly a man in a suit and looks silly the first time it is on camera. If the viewer can get passed this first exposure than they are in for a treat. Fear and tension are ratcheted up to eleven as Ambrose’s confusion and unknowing dawn on the viewer; placing yourself in his position becomes a terrifying mental exercise.
Late Phases is able to deliver two things not often seen in horror films. The majority of the characters are elderly, as opposed to the traditional attractive teens that dominate the genre; the younger characters are used in comedic means to highlight societies attitudes and views toward the elderly in bright, disgusting light. Secondly, Ambrose is blind. There have been horror films (even werewolf films, Silver Bullet) that fills the main roles with disabled characters but this is the first one I have seen in which the main character is blind, apart from The Langoliers (which I am still trying, desperately, failingly, to forgot).
While Late Phases isn’t for everyone – there will be people who can not get behind the special effects or Ambrose’s unrelenting stubbornness – it is, however, one of the best werewolf films to come out in a long time and hopefully a sign of a new trend to take back our monsters and keep them as just that, monstrous.