Monday, June 22, 2015

Late Phases, The Veteran vs. The Werewolf

As a society we are all too quick to many of the more noble among us into the attic.  The elderly, disabled, and veterans of old wars are just too inconvenient to value and give the praise they deserve. The proud and stoic among those classes are never comfortable in today's world of celebrity deification and technological innovations.  As in the film "Mulberry Street" (see my review on March 4, 2015), our protagonist in 2014's "Late Phases" is just such a person.  Nick Damici portrays a veteran of the conflict in Vietnam.  He is proud.  He is stoic.  He is blind....and society has no patience for him.  Perhaps he is a reminder of how shallow we have become, and how noble men once were.  When evil calls, it takes a man like this to fight it...as today's men just aren't up to the task.
In a heartbreaking scene, Ambrose (Damici) is moved into an old folks community by his son, Will (Ethan Embry).  The blind Ambrose has become an inconvenience to Will, who has his own life to live.  Proud, and coming to terms with failing health and blindness, Ambrose is a grouch.  When a trio of old ladies, including Tina Louise from "Gilligan's Island," welcome him to the neighborhood, our protagonist sends them on their way in a rude fashion. That night, he hears his neighbor (Karen Lynn Gorney of "Saturday Night Fever") ripped to shreds by a werewolf.  Knowing no one will believe him, and that as a witness, he will be the next intended victim, Ambrose does what he does best...prepares for battle.  The police are confident that the death was an animal attack, but Ambrose knows better.  During the attack, the monster attempted to eat Ambrose, but he was saved by his service dog, who died in the battle.

In the 28 days until the next full moon, the blind Ambrose listens, smells, and pays attention to his surroundings.  Horrifying his neighbors by handling firearms, hoarding ammunition, and using a menacing, sharpened spade instead of a cane, the old fogies of his community begin to shun him. Ambrose is a man of war, and he has been attacked...the sensibilities of the weak are of no consequence to him.  As Ambrose comes to terms with his own mortality, and sins of his past, he believes himself ready for the next full moon.  Bad news! The werewolf sees that Ambrose is preparing and it also prepares for a battle.  The next attack will not resemble the previous one, and Ambrose will have to improvise, adapt and overcome if he wants to prevail.
Ambrose will fight the final battle alone, just as he is living the twilight of his life.  With mortality closing in, a late surge of emotion will have our hero trying to form a more tender relationship with his son.  As the next full moon hits, the carnage is maximized, and Ambrose's survival and combat skills will be put through horrific tests. When the identity of the werewolf is revealed, though Ambrose knew all along, fans of 1980s horror films will gasp.  Available on Netflix, "Late Phases" may be a metaphor for the carnage we all face when we discard our noble elders.  

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