Late Phases (2014) Review: Gran Torino with Werewolves
“The Hunt Is On”
Synopsis: When deadly beasts attack from the forest, it is up to a grizzled veteran to uncover what the residents of a secluded retirement community are hiding.
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Ludwig von Stroodle:
Gran Torino vs. the Werewolf is essentially the premise of the film. I went into this expecting the badass blind Vietnam vet to endure a harrowing ordeal where his sheer cantankerousness carries him to victory over the furry menace. It started out strong, establishing through his interactions with his neighbors at the retirement community that he simply gave no fucks. That’s followed up by a gory werewolf attack. The monster costume wasn’t great, but I’ve yet to see a convincing werewolf in any film, so I let that slide.
Early on, I forgave a lot. For instance, a bunch of foreshadowing was made unnecessary by the fact that they showed the werewolf right off the bat. When the blind guy figures it out almost immediately, you don’t need to keep dropping hints about full moons. Also, the entire neighborhood knew something was feasting on the elderly, and but everyone just brushes it off ’cause it was just a “wild animal.” That “animal” had been breaking into homes and devouring a few people a month for God knows how long. Who is still sending their old people to this place? It’s like the Hogwarts of retirement homes: this community is out of bounds for everyone not wishing to die a very painful death.
All that wasn’t too unusual; most movies phone a few things in so they can focus on the action. But about halfway through, I started to get a little worried, because the action still hadn’t come. The movie pretty much flatlined after the initial attack, focusing on the hero’s family issues and his increasingly hostile interactions with his neighbors. When the climax finally arrived, it was brief and straightforward. He just kind of shot them, and that was that.
Ludwig von Stroodle’s Rating: C
It was overly optimistic of me to expect good things from a movie that’s been called “Gran Torino with werewolves” when I don’t like Gran Torino.
The premise of an old man singlehandedly fighting a werewolf that’s terrorizing his retirement community is decently original. The problem is that not much actually happens in the movie. All of the action is within the first and last ten minutes or so, leaving the middle fairly dull. Ambrose (Nick Damici) spends a month training, looking for clues, and preparing for the werewolf’s next attack – and it feels like a month.
I enjoyed the shovel training montage and the wacky, Home Alone-esque nature of his traps. But the truth is that very few of Ambrose’s preparations actually come into play in the final battle. And despite his werewolf-fighting skills, his tendency to be an ass to everyone he meets does little to endear the watcher to the main character. There’s also some family drama that’s hinted at but not fully explained – again, not giving the watcher solid reasons to root for Ambrose.
Also, the movie inevitably runs into the problem that all werewolf movies face: should the werewolves be humans in monster suits, CGI, or actual wolves? There’s usually no right answer, but Late Phases definitely chose the wrong one. In a fairly serious movie, having actors in werewolf costumes prancing around majorly spoils the ambiance. (Credit where credit is due: the werewolf transformation scene is surprisingly good considering how bad the costumes are.)
I wanted to like Late Phases… but like Ambrose, it just didn’t give me enough reason to.
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Calamity Brains’ Rating: C
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