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Late Phases

Year: 2014
Production Co: Dark Sky Films
Director: Adrián García Bogliano
Writer: Eric Stoltze
Cast: Nick Damici, Lance Guest, Tom Noonan

First of all, congratulations and applause to the fimmakers behind Late Phases for having the courage to make the hero an elderly blind man when conventional wisdom in Hollywood still leans towards movies about teenagers who look better when they take their clothes off (even Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens is taking such a road by being about a new generation).

Unfortunately, it's the only high note in this, the third dire straight to DVD/VOD werewolf movie in as many months after Wolves and Werewolf Rising. When blind Vietnam War vet Ambrose (Nick Damici) is put in a retirement community by his grown son, his prickly demeanour doesn't win him many friends.

But when, on the first night, his kindly neighbour is attacked and slaughtered in her house, Ambrose finds out it's not the first strange and violent death in the community. In fact, they seem to come once every full moon or so.

It's never very clear whether Ambrose is trying to investigate what's going on or just mind his own business. The character is so inexpressive he reminds you of the dad character played by James Caan in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, speaking in a constant low rumble that might be disgust as much as it is indifference.

As he tries to get on with his life and fortify his new home against whatever threat is menacing the nearby forest, he makes friends with the staff at a local church, Father Roger (Tom Noonan) and his kindly right hand man Griffin (Lance Guest) as his biddy neighbours gossip about him behind his back.

Then, the next full moon comes. The film gives up the identity of the werewolf with a minimum of fanfare, but his endgame is to go around the neighbourhood biting other residents to turn them into monsters like him so he can be rid of the troublesome Ambrose once and for all.

As with every film in the genre, you'll be waiting for werewolf effects. Thankfully they're in-camera rather than awful CGI, but they only show up in two scenes in the whole film – the first attack and the climactic massacre – and they look frankly ridiculous.

It's not so much the budget, it's the design. Rather than looking powerful and dog-like, the monsters look like a cross between a diseased rat and a oompa-loompa. More of them on screen for longer would have helped, and there's a goodly amount of blood that's appropriate to the genre, but there's just not enough of a cohesive story or well-made characters in the midst of it all to keep it interesting.

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