security around Ambrose McKinley’s new gated retirement community is not very
effective, considering there is at least one fatal animal attack every month,
like clockwork. It takes him all of one night in his new home to figure out it
corresponds to the full moon. Putting two and two together, the blind Vietnam
veteran will count down the days until the next fateful moon in Adrián García
Bogliano’s Late Phases (trailer here), which opens
tomorrow in New York.
is debatable who has a keener sense of smell, McKinley or the werewolf stalking
Crescent Bay. McKinley would seem to be at a disadvantage. Soon after moving
into a new environment, his service dog Shadow is killed by the lycanthrope.
Since McKinley never owned a cane, he prowls around the neighborhood with the
help of a shovel. However, he is still handy with firearms and his bad attitude
is a heck of an equalizer. Just ask his put-upon son Will. His new neighbors
are even less charmed by McKinley, especially the one he is hunting and being hunted
Phases is being billed as
veteran character actor Nick Damici’s breakthrough performance and they’re not
kidding around. He finds new ways to be awesome as the spectacularly surly
McKinley. He is often funny, genuinely touching in key dramatic scenes, but one
hundred percent hardnose, through and through.
rules the roost, but Phases is also
brimming with a cult-friendly supporting cast, most notably including Tom (Manhunter, House of the Devil) Noonan as Father Roger. Somehow he
simultaneously makes the good Father a refreshingly sympathetic man of the
cloth, as well as a compelling suspect. The
Last Starfighter’s Lance Guest sure looks a lot older as Griffin, Crescent
Lake’s resident community organizer, whereas Glass Eye Pix founder Larry
Fessenden always looks like someone you might buy a headstone from. Add in Tina
Louise from Gilligan’s Island as one
of McKinley’s catty neighbors and Twin
Peaks’ Dana Ashbrook as an ammo salesman and you have yourself an ensemble.
For his first English language production,
Bogliano went 1980s old school. He takes plenty of time for character development,
showcasing screenwriter Eric Stolze’s sly dialogue and Damici’s grizzled
presence. While the slow build is moody and suggestive, the werewolf effects
are a little cheesy, but in an appealing retro gross-out kind of way. Frankly,
it all comes together in a satisfyingly nostalgic package. Highly recommended for
werewolf fans, Late Phases opens
tomorrow (11/21) in New York at the IFC Center.
Labels: Larry Fessenden, Nick Damici, Tom Noonan, Werewolf movies