Nick Damici has been on quite the roll as late with his collaborations with Jim Mickle: Stakeland, We are What we Are and Cold in July. All the films he co-wrote as well as acted in, have had long and successful festival runs and fervent admirers.
This time just showcasing his acting ability on his own, Late Phases finds Damici playing retired soldier Ambrose McKinley. Ambrose, struck blind in the war, has recently settled into a retirement community with the help of his son Will (Ethan Embry) and his Seeing Eye dog Shadow, but is attacked by what is ruled an animal attack on his first night alone in his new home. But when Ambrose discovers that others have been attacked before he soon finds out that the attacks tend to center around the full moon.
Damici is fantastic as Ambrose. A prickly and opinionated veteran that researches the situation like a dog on a bone, Damici brings a real depth to Ambrose as the audience can physically see him working through the mystery just by the expression on his face. The film also features a terrific supporting cast highlighted by the incomparable Tom Noonan who is brilliant as a priest with a not so clean history. Embry continues his fine work as of late in interesting projects, including Cheap Thrills from TAD 2013, and Lance Guest is great as well. Director Adrián García Bogliano shows an obvious affection for the older werewolf classics from the immortal Universal Lon Chaney starring vehicle to John Landis’ seminal American Werewolf in Londonin the way the action is staged filmed.
Some excellent and fun practical effects work also elevates the film through the brilliant work of Robert Kurtzman in the showy, old school transformation sequence and more. Late Phases is a throwback werewolf film, simple with an ingenious hook that does not over rely on computer generated effects and targeting its film to a younger audience. Instead it just focuses on delivering a universally relatable story combined with performances that should win over audiences easily. (Kirk Haviland)