Dog Soldiers (2002)

“It’s a full moon. I don’t know, maybe it’s like when you need to take a piss or something, I don’t know. When you gotta go, you gotta fucking go.”
“Yeah, well maybe it’s more like needing a shite. Just cos you need one doesn’t mean you drop your kegs and pinch one off.”

In 2002, Neil Marshall, a relatively unknown director at the time, had the idea of bringing back the classic werewolf movie. No frills, no fancy pants CGI (or terrible CGI, if Van Helsing is anything to go by), just gritty ‘real’ puppetry, prosthetics, and animatronics. Throw in a rag tag bunch of soldiers, and the promising tagline ‘Six soldiers. Full moon. No chance’ and you have Dog Soldiers.

The film opens with two loved up campers in the Scottish wilderness. It’s his birthday, and he’s presented with a solid silver knife. Silver? Werewolves? Subtle? This film is nothing of the sort, but we’ll get to that. Long story short, they are attacked by an unknown beast. Cut to the aforementioned ragtag bunch of soldiers led by Sean Pertwee (Equilibrium, Event horizon) and Kevin McKidd (Trainspotting, Rome) on a routine weekend training op, filled with complaints about “missin’ the footie”, and the general disdain for being in…wait for it… the Scottish wilderness. You see where this is going?

This all goes completely tits up, or ‘bone’ as they’d so eloquently put it, when they realise they aren’t alone in the woods. Forced to seek refuge in a Cottage in the middle of nowhere, they lay their defences for a night long siege against hordes of werewolves. Cue 105 minutes of swearing, shooting, violence, laughs, and some of the best
one liners i’ve ever heard.

In terms of storytelling, there isn’t really much here, but that’s really not an issue. You have your soldiers, and you have your dogs. The clue’s in the title. It’s a great take on the siege movie, but with a monster/horror twist.

The casting is fantastic; a band of soldiers that bounce off each other perfectly. Pertwee and McKidd’s relationship especially is a real one of note. A mentor/student relationship, but a deeper friendship is evident there too. Add great performances by Emma Cleasby (Doomsday) and the ever sinister Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones, Blood:The Last Vampire), and you have a very strong ensemble cast.

Then we have the werewovles themselves. They are in short, fantastic. I went into this film expecting to see terrible CGI werewolves running up walls (sorry Underworld), but instead i was greeted with fantastic animatronics and prosthetics, reminiscent of An American Werewolf In London. It’s this ‘real’ look, that is such a nod to the classic werewolf movies of old, and in this CGI-laden world, it was nothing short of refreshing.

I would recommend Dog Soldiers to anyone. It’s a big screen B-Movie with homages to all the classic werewolf movies; plenty of explosions, and in general just a real lads movie, but with more widespread appeal. It’s just bloody good fun, and i loved every minute of it. Yes, the story is a little thin, but there’s the odd twist and turn moments that can really blindsight you.

Neil Marshall did a great job here, and went on to make films like The Descent, a personal favourite of mine.

Watch it with friends, squirm at the gory bits, laugh at the countless funny bits, and generally just immerse yourself in the switch off your brain and enjoy romp that is Dog Soldiers.

I guarantee you’ll be quoting it for weeks.

Rating: ★★★★★★★½☆☆

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.