Released in 2014, Late Phases – or Night of the Wolf as it’s known in some territories – was something of a unique werewolf horror movie. Instead of a scantily clad young blonde battling the beast, the hero of the film is an ageing, blind curmudgeon war veteran in a retirement community. While this premise might sound ripe for comedy, director Adrián García Bogliano uses it as a jumping off point to craft one of the decade’s most exciting and thrilling horror flicks.
Written by Eric Stolze, Late Phases follows Ambrose McKinley (Stake Land’s Nick Damici), a blind yet fiercely independent war veteran as he moves into a retirement village at the edge of a forest. Following a beastly attack that claims the lives of several victims in the community, Ambrose takes matters into his own hands to uncover the secret of this monstrous creature and put his military training to good use for one last fight.
Utilising a very traditional approach including grisly practical effects, the film feels like classic horror with its clear budget limitations evoking memories of early John Carpenter and other horror filmmakers of that era. The result is a film that feels, among many other things, like a love letter to the werewolf subgenre of horror, and certainly the finest example of it since John Landis’ celebrated An American Werewolf in London.
Beyond the horror of Late Phases, though, hides a surprisingly poignant character study of Ambrose. Thanks to a superb performance from horror great Damici, the film is just as effective as a drama as we learn about Ambrose’s history and relationship with his son (Ethan Embry). It’s surprisingly poignant, elevating the film to more than just another blood-and-gore creature feature.
Finally hitting Blu-ray in the UK thanks to the wonderful 101 Films, this one is a hidden gem in the horror genre that deserves reappraisal. Thrilling, grisly and moving in equal measure, Late Phases will have horror fans howling with delight.