When Ambrose, a blind war vet, is reluctantly moved to a retirement communtiy by his son, he soon learns that it's residents have been dying off, the apparent victims of wild animal attacks. When he narrowly escapes one of these attacks on his first night there, he begins to suspect that there might be a little more to the attacker than a wild animal. The more he discovers, the more things begin to look more like the work of a werewolf, and he's only got a month until the next full moon to plan his counter-attack.
I've learned over the years that you've just got to let a lot of things go if you're going to be a werewolf film collector. It's just the way it is. There just aren't that may truly great werewolf flicks out there. I applaud Late Phases for trying something different, and mostly succeeding. That said, the ONE thing that you've got to make sure you get right is the werewolf, for me at least. Unfortunately this is the one glaring thing that I just couldn't get past in Late Phases. The first few, dark glimpses gave me hope, especially in shadowy silhouette, but toward the film's climax when everything is out in the light... well, let's just say if I hadn't known going in that this was a werewolf movie, I'd probably have been wondering what kind of "were" these were. Werehamsters maybe? I dunno. But I wouldn't have guessed wereWOLF right away.
Still, if you can get past the look of the creatures, Late Phases is a pretty solid movie. Nick Damici as Ambrose understandably ends up with most of the screen time to himself, and thankfully he does a fine job (although there are moments especially toward the end where you'd swear he can see just a little). Tom Noonan (woo hoo!) also lends his talents to this movie, as Father Roger, and I always enjoy his work. There are a few other notable names in the cast, but they have bit parts at best.
While the looks of the creatures may have left me disappointed, the effects were actually halfway decent. This is a creature feature, and those are usually fun. There's not a lot of blood and guts, but enough to satisfy. Things seemed to lean more towards the practical side too, and if you're into that kind of thing like I am, that's definitely a good thing.
Late Phases is a good werewolf film, not a great one, which ultimately ends up being disappointing. While there is plenty to like here, I just couldn't get past the poor creature design of the werewolves themselves. If you're not quite as picky of a werewolf person as I am, most definitely check it out. If you're like me, and have a pretty specific vision when it comes to the look of your lycanthrope, this probably won't be your cup of tea.