DOG SOLDIERS – The Dungeon Review!
“Six soldiers. Full moon. No chance.”
Today’s review is another suggestion/recommendation from a reader. This is actually my second viewing of ‘Dog Soldiers’, which I had initially rented when it was a new release. I’m pleased to say I enjoyed this flick just as much as I did the first time. Don’t be put off by that cheesy looking cover. The film’s DVD art is not a reflection of the quality product contained within.
The bloody remains of a cow dropped into their camp surprise a group of soldiers on a routine training mission in Scotland. They follow the bloody breadcrumbs to what remains of a Special Ops squad. Among the blood and guts they find a wounded survivor. The enemy has come back for seconds, but thanks to a zoologist driving through the area, the group manages to escape. With two badly wounded men in the group, they decide to hole up in a local house. Here they are forced to battle an unimaginable enemy, a pack of werewolves.
We begin with a couple camping in the woods. The zipper of their tent slowly moving upwards interrupts their necking. As they stare dumbfounded, the female is ripped from the tent and killed. We then move to a scene where a man is being chased, but learn that he is completing survivor training. His refusal to shoot a dog in the head for no reason gets his ass booted out. Now enter our soldiers on a routine training mission. Private Cooper, our man who refused to shoot the dog (and good on ya sir!) is now part of this group. When they find the gory remains of the Special Ops unit, he instantly recognizes the survivor as his former superior, Captain Ryan. Captain Ryan played by Liam Cunningham is the films asshole. In direct contrast is the personable Sargeant Wells played by Sean Pertwee. The group under Sargeant Wells command are a bunch of likeable blokes who are about to get a lot more than they signed up for. Rounding out the cast is the films lone female, our zoologist Megan. The film is well cast with every single performance top-notch. Perhaps I am somewhat charmed by the accent, but there is definitely a natural fluid feel to the dialog.
The film is well written, particularly the dialog as noted above. Some of the banter between the men is humorous, but the film is generally a more serious affair. Like vampires and zombies, there is a pre-determined set of rules one comes to expect with werewolf behaviour. They stick to the basics here, hunting during the full moon, good eyesight, can’t be taken down by a regular bullet. Of course the men had no idea they would be running into werewolves so they didn’t come prepared with silver bullets, but there’s pretty much nothing you can’t blow to bits.
There is a decent amount of blood and gore. The werewolves make short work of their prey leaving nothing behind but entrails and blood. Plenty of blood. That stuff can really stick to a boot! The werewolves are extremely impressive from a distance and cast a most intimidating shadow. Unfortunately, there are times when the shots get close in, that they look considerably less than perfect. But you have to appreciate that they opted for costumes over CGI.
The mood is excellent. It manages to keep a nice intensity throughout. The remote, vast expanse of wilderness that the troops are dropped into adds to the sense of hopelessness, which escalates as the film moves along. How can so much space seem so claustrophobic? Marshall is a master at casting and mood. If you are a fan of his film ‘The Descent’, and you’re not adverse to creature features, you will probably find much to enjoy here. A solid story, excellent cast, great setting and decent effects make ‘Dog Soldiers’ an excellent way to spend 100ish minutes. Highly Recommended!
Dungeon Rating: 4.5/5
Directed By: Neil Marshall
Starring: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, Liam Cunningham, Thomas Lockyer, Darren Morfitt, Chris Robson, Leslie Simpson