Film

Late Phases Asks Not ‘Is There a Werewolf,’ but ‘Why Is There a Werewolf?’

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Two key elements in horror movies are anticipation and pacing, with the latter simply the heightening and lowering of the former.

With Late Phases, Adrián García Bogliano artfully engages with those tools, crafting a narrative whose close feels a touch underwhelming only in relation to the impressive buildup. In the most entertaining tough-old-crank turn this side of Gran Torino, Nick Damici stars as Ambrose, a blind Vietnam vet who has no sooner moved into the placid retirement community of Crescent Bay than he becomes auditory and olfactory witness to a murder committed by a werewolf.

After the beast also kills Ambrose’s seeing-eye dog, Shadow, the vet vows revenge. (And how! Wait Until Dark this isn’t — file Late Phases as the best film in which a blind individual gets trigger-happy with a series of firearms.) The filmmakers wisely reveal the werewolf early, as this shifts the source of suspense from an obvious question (Will there turn out to be a monster?) to a more mystifying one (Why is there a monster?).

In addition to the careful parceling-out of information and anticipation, the film benefits enormously from Damici’s lead performance: gruff, funny, aggressive, and, of course, commanding sympathy, the character compellingly entices the audience to board this ride.

The narrative ends up working in a smaller scope than one might expect given the premise of a beast plaguing a community, but the journey getting to the finish is exhilarating all the same.