Dec 2, 2009

Posted in 2000s, UK

Dog Soldiers (2002)

Dog Soldiers (2002)

I’m a big fan of werewolf movies. Ever since I saw Lon Chaney Jr. transform into the wolfman for the first time I was hooked.  Unfortunately most werewolf movies suck. There are some classics, The Howling, American Werewolf in London and Curse of the Werewolf but overall most of them are a mixed lot. I approached Dog Soldiers with caution. Was I about to be disappointed again? Was I about to watch another fecal Howling sequel? Fortunately for me the answer to both of these questions was no.

Dog Soldiers opens in Scotland, where campers are attacked by an unknown creature in the middle of the night. Flash forward a few weeks and we see a group of army trainees that are left in the Scottish Highlands as part of a training exercise. The trainees are led by Sergeant Wells (Sean Pertwee) and Private Cooper (Kevin McKidd). During the first night of the mission a mutilated cow is thrown into their campsite. That’s never a good sign of things to come. The good soldiers decide to investigate where the flying bovine came from. What they find isn’t pretty, the slaughtered remains of a Special Forces team that were in the area. There is blood and evidence of a struggle but there are no bodies and there is a survivor. The survivor is Captain Ryan (played by Liam Cunningham) who was severely injured during whatever transpired. Ryan is terrified and incoherent. He isn’t giving the soldiers much to go on.

Dog1The soldiers are trying to make sense of what has transpired here when they are attacked. They are surrounded and something has moved in for the kill. During this initial attack you don’t get a good look at the werewolves. They are big, vicious and looking for food. The soldiers fight back but they realize that staying and fighting is a losing battle. Two soldiers are killed and one, Sgt. Wells is having trouble keeping his intestines in his body. They decide to run.

While trying to escape, the soldiers encounter a woman with a truck. The young woman, Megan takes the soldiers to a cottage in the woods so the soldiers can regroup and patch up their wounds. This sets up the rest of the film as the soldiers bunker down Night of the Living Dead style and they try to fight off the hordes of werewolves. Bullets fly and wolves howl. All hell breaks loose. There are several twists in the film. Questions such as what were Special Forces doing in the area? Who is Capt. Ryan and what is really going on? I’ll let you find out these answers.

dog-soldiersDog Soldiers is not a special effects film. Don’t expect any CG transformations. The werewolf makeup is not great and there are few close-ups of the beasts until the end. This is a balls to the wall action-horror film. Director Neil Marshall keeps the action coming and makes the most of his small budget. The film maintains a high level tension throughout. The cast is solid. The characters are believable and the storyline has a couple of surprises in it. There is some gore but it’s not a bloodbath. The humor in the film is kept to a minimum. It is also the only film that I can think of that uses crazy glue to keep someone’s intestines from falling out of their body. This film is a must see for fans of action-horror. It is really worth seeking out.

One final note, please ignore the box art for this movie. The American release looks like they hired an eight year old with a box of crayons and told him to draw a bunch of werewolves. Buy/rent this movie. It’s really a kick ass film that doesn’t let up until the end.

Sequel

A sequel Dog Soldiers: Fresh Meat was planned and it was said that the story would pick up from the end of the first film. Neil Marshall was not involved with the production and neither was cinematographer Sam McCurdy, production designer Simon Bowles or any of the original cast, aside from Liam Cunningham. Rob Green was pencilled in for directing duties.

Although it was announced that filming would commence in April 2006, by 12 August 2008 information about the film had been removed from various web resources and there was no news of its production status. (Sequel information courtesy of wikipedia)

– By Frank


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Rating: 5.0/5 (4 votes cast)
Dog Soldiers (2002), 5.0 out of 5 based on 4 ratings

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