It is easy to sum up Late Phases with one word: balance. The film finds this perfect balance between all of the key elements that hold the film together. One part werewolf genre piece, one part senior citizen sociological parallel, this film offers a great perspective on our treatment of the retired and handicapped using the common horror vehicle.
As previously mentioned, the film features a great dose of balance on all fronts. It shows both sides of the treatment of senior citizens, it balances humor and horror, and it teeters drama and tension. All of the side characters give a contrast to one another of respect and disrespect towards senior citizens. The two movers and two cops, in particular, show kindness and mistreatment respectively. Even the kindness hints at pity occasionally, which our protagonist Ambrose scoffs at with the geriatric pride only a grumpy old war vet can boast.
Ambrose was a fine protagonist. A no-nonsense, blind war vet, he sets up a film that plays like Gran Torino meets Dog Soldiers. His personality drives much of the film, but the refrain and ambiguity towards his backstory for much of the piece doesn't behave like a mystery begged to be solved, but more like wet concrete that is holding back a solid performance. Yet, the film stands so well as he prepares to do battle with the retirement community of beasts with a Bubba Ho-Tep-like self-awareness.
No werewolf movie, or good one at least, is complete without a transformation scene. This film has one, and it is a great horror set piece. The gore effects, the well-timed panning camera, the dispersement of rosary beads as the transformation completes, it's all a great touch to an age-old, but still enjoyable horror trope. With a handful more of great gore effects, the film keeps your attention, but the werefolf suits in the end are lacking, even for low-budget horror. The transformation scene leads to disappointing follow-up moments of the beasts in full view. They aren't the worst thing ever seen, but with so many other great werewolf prosthetic builds out there, this one left more to be desired.
Late Phases possessed almost a perfect balance of flaws and strengths as well. It found a groove with its lead and it held onto it until the bitter end, allowing it to sand out the splinters in the wood and make it less apparent how old the wood actually is. Not that there is anything wrong with being old. Lesson learned...I think.