A blind war vet moves to a quiet little place where he hopes to be able to get some peace. It doesn't stay peaceful for long, as the population is brutally murdered one after one. The veteran takes it upon himself to put an end to it, but there is something hungry behind the murders.
You might have heard of this movie from several sources (our Best of 2014 list being one of them) and there is no surprise. I was very excited when I found out that Adri·n GarcÌa Bogliano's new movie "Late Phases" was a werewolf movie. His work has ranged between bad and great, but he remains a very interesting director that I always wanted to keep track on, and it's with pleasure that I can say that he has outdone himself with his latest movie. As a huge werewolf fan, "Late Phases" seems to take notes from the classics, the ones that actually had something to offer to the genre. It's equally a tribute to the greats as well as it brings out new ideas.
There is a small town where a lot of older people live for some peace and quiet. It's the perfect place for a bland war veteran to move, but what seemed like the ideal place, is proving to be a living hell come night time. People are being brutally murdered by some beast and the veteran is keeping his ears open to unfold the truth of the murders. When it becomes clear to him that a werewolf is terrorizing the town, as unbelievable as it may be, he prepares to put an end to it.
There is nothing new in the concept of a small town being invaded by a werewolf, but it's in all the other details that "Late Phases" shines. First of all, that the protagonist is a blind old man is something that adds an interesting and memorable touch to it, and it never feels like a random odd hook to pull in viewers, but as something that adds great personality in the lead. It makes the fight for his survival so much more intense. Simply having the lead be an older man, and not have the movie set around a bunch of dumb teens, is also highly intriguing to me. There is more to relate to in an old, lonely man who has been through a lot and is about to go through hell, than a bunch of stupid teens we don't even care about (and I love the stupid classic horror movies). Another thing that made me enjoy "Late Phases" a lot is a small but very significant change in plot that is pulled out at the beginning of act 3, which I won't spoil for you here. It's a small piece that just makes a fun werewolf movie into something worthy to put next to my favorites.
"Late Phases" reminds me in more ways than one about "Silvet Bullet", one of my favorites, but it also brings in the atmosphere of "The Howling" and "Bad Moon". These are definitely great movies to be taking cues from, because this is the kind of werewolf movies us fans are sorely missing. The movie also features very distinctive werewolf make-up, which reminds me of the wonderfully bizarre look of the one in "The Howling IV: The Original Nightmare". I fucking love that design, so to find a mix of that and the first "The Howling" in "Late Phases" made my werewolf loving heart warm. It's definitely the look you'd expect in an '80s werewolf movie, perhaps one where the werewolf only has a small part ("Waxwork" and "Fright Night", I'm looking at you), but not one you often get to see through-out - and absolutely not in a movie from 2014. Did I tell you that they're full practical FX suits, courtesy of Robert Kurtzman? If there is one thing that ruins werewolf movies, it's fucking CGI werewolves. Or, I should say, poorly made CGI werewolves, because I don't mind CGI if it will look good, but it rarely does and certainly doesn't have the feel that practical does. Do you get why "Late Phases" is such an important horror movie to me?
"Late Phases" succeeds in the incredible feat of being both unique and nostalgic, and it makes it a winner in my book. Bogliano has not only made the best movie of his career so far with this one, he might have made the best werewolf movie since the "Ginger Snaps" trilogy. I'm just sad to know that now that I've gotten a good werewolf movie again, it will take a long time for the next good one to come out. I urge you all to watch "Late Phases" if you love werewolves or fun '80s horror.