From the director who gave us indie foreign horror, Here Comes the Devil, comes his first American film written by Eric J Stolze who gave us another great horror gem, Under the Bed. Interestingly enough this script was written as a sample piece to showcase Stolze's writing skills, however producers were so impressed they funded and made the film. This little werewolf flick gives us amazing performances from Nick Damici aka the badass from Stakeland, Tom Noonan who played Frankenstein in Monster Squad and we even get the Last Starfighter himself, Lance Guest! Not to mention 90's go to guy Ethan Embry! This collection of talent brought together a story told many a time but in a very different setting.
Nick Damici plays blind Vietnam veteran, Ambrose whose son Will (Ethan Embry) has moved him to a retirement community called Crescent Bay. On Ambrose's first night his neighbor is attacked by a large ferocious animal and thanks to the sacrifice of Ambrose's seeing eye dog, Shadow, survives the encounter. Ambrose quickly deduces through his keen sense of smell and hearing that the animal was some kind of large dog and it attacked him on a full moon. Ambrose begins scoping out his community under the impression that someone there is not who they seem, he begins training himself and laying out the house in a defensive set up along with preparing weapons, he knows he has one month until the next full moon and he wants to be ready.
Ambrose's character is a really interesting one as every little nuance and quirk other character's have is a clue to him. His character development is really interesting as you see him play his disability to his advantage more than anything as people don't suspect the blind man. His heightened senses help him figure out a persons personality quickly and he doesn't take crap from anyone as his whole life and military training has hardened him even to his own son who wishes only to be loved by him. You really feel for Embry's character Will as he tries so hard to help and impress but is really helpless and oblivious to the problems of what seems to be a crazy old man. Tom Noonan plays a priest that really helps you delve into the character's inner turmoil and problems, explaining why Ambrose is so cold and has consigned himself to death in a fight with a supernatural entity. These moments are short but powerful.
The werewolves themselves are quite awesome. You get two or three attacks throughout the film until the final climactic battle. The finale is what really scares me as a raised catholic, nothing is scarier than seeing someone who completely throws themselves into religion go crazy to me. I will not reveal the character but someone within the church that Ambrose attends is the one who bears the mark of the beast and in desperation goes to the houses of his fellow parishioners under the false guise of prayer to turn them into lycanthropes to help him combat Ambrose. These scenes are disturbing as the religious fanatic turns into a beastly terror. The FX of these werewolves are all practically done under the supervision of the K in KNB FX group, Robert Kurtzman. One thing to always wonder in a werewolf flick, are the werewolves going to be as awesome as Rob Bottin's in The Howling and Rick Baker's in American Werewolf in London? Let me say that these werewolves to me were a combo of both. They tear off their skin to reveal their hairy muscular forms that seem to have an almost demonic look, almost like someone took a gremlin and covered it with hair and teeth, definitely a different look than we're used to seeing and it's a really badass one!
The two biggest aspects of this film that made it great were the story and the creatures. The drama of father and son, the loss of who you once were are key elements that make this story work and resonate and watching Nick Damici fight unholy terrors in the night with his ingenuity and sheer tenacity is a battle for the ages! He is the horror version of Clint Eastwood and has the acting chops to boot! The finale itself is a heart wrenching speech between father and son that leaves you with more than just an amazing horror flick but also an amazing drama. For Bogliano's first American film of Stolze's showcase script, it's got more heart, terror and originality than half the stuff we get now a days and I can't wait to see what these two have next for us! 27 Days til' Halloween Halloween! 27 Days til' Halloween! Silver Shamrock!