MOVIE REVIEW: LATE PHASES / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: ADRIÁN GARCÍA BOGLIANO / SCREENPLAY: ERIC STOLZE / STARRING: NICK DAMICI, ETHAN EMBRY, LANCE GUEST / RELEASE DATE: TBC
In Adrián García Bogliano’s lupine thriller, Late Phases, blind ex-military man Ambrose (Damici) relocates to Crescent Bay, a gated retirement community that has been experiencing a series of mysterious savage deaths. These are attributed to wild animals from the nearby forest and the cops think it’s no biggie, but Ambrose learns differently on his first night, when the full moon rises and the killing starts, and he's confronted with a werewolf menace.
Clearly not having had its fill of the old dear next door, the beast crashes into Ambrose’s place. In the melée, Shadow, his beloved guide dog is mortally wounded. Ambrose is no schmuck. He might lack a good pair of peepers but his other senses are as sharp as a Bowie knife. The need for revenge is consuming and he sets out to take the walking carpet down to Chinatown, while announcing himself to his neighbours, churchgoers and the local fuzz as the new bad boy on the block.
Nick Damici – an actor who could be the love child of Charles Bronson and Paul Newman – the brilliant Tom Noonan and Cheap Thrill’s Ethan Embry lead the cast. The film is not a geriactioner take on the werewolf movie, but it does hark back to the days of old monster flicks, ones where one iconic figure faced off against another. The modern interpretation, however, is ‘misanthrope versus lycanthrope’. Damici is excellent as the grouchy old sod with a chip on his shoulder. Ambrose isn’t well liked in Crescent Bay. A gruff demeanour and tough-talking Noo Yawk accent make him sound sarcastic and mildly threatening at all times.
Unfortunately, Damici’s performance is deserving of a more satisfying movie. The initial whodunit plot – who among these oldies is the killer? – is jettisoned midway through (unsurprisingly, perhaps, as you’d have be a complete dope not to recognise the killer when he is introduced during an early scene). It’s a shame, though, as a great deal of initial tension has nowhere to go. All you're left with is a territorial pissing contest between two alpha dogs.
Eric Stolze, who scripted Steven Miller’s enjoyable retro monster movie, Under the Bed, at least has penned compelling characters. Ambrose is a dude at the end of the line. Sitting around waiting to kick the bucket holds no appeal and the encounter with the werewolf presents an opportunity for the old SOB to go down fighting. Semper Fi!
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10