There’s just something about British pop culture that a large cross section of Americans seem to enjoy. Whether it be Monty Python or Harry Potter, Doctor Who or The Beatles, it seems like the Brits know what they’re doing.
So when the opportunity was presented to me, many years ago, to watch a British werewolf movie, I jumped at the chance. I’m glad I did.
Tonight’s movie is Dog Soldiers.
Year Released: 2002
Written By: Neil Marshall
Directed By: Neil Marshall
Starring: Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, Liam Cunningham
When six British Army soldiers on a military exercise in the Scottish highlands meet up with a second group for their training, they encounter something entirely different. The camp is torn to pieces, and so are the soldiers they were sent there to meet. All but one man, Captain Ryan, who has been injured and is too shaken to give any information about who –or what– attacked his unit. Before the soldiers can tend to his wounds, they find themselves under attack by an unseen presence in the surrounding woods. They flee, a few men dying in the process, and are able to get away thanks to a zoologist who just happens to be taking a nearby road to the home of a family friend. The soldiers load Captain Ryan, along with their own Sergeant Wells who has also been injured by one of the mysterious assailants in the woods, into the back of the zoologist’s jeep and make a get away.
The zoologist and the soldiers arrive at their destination, a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, and take shelter inside. Once darkness descends, the farmhouse is surrounded and the threat is revealed: Werewolves.
The soldiers must fight for their lives and defend the house against supernatural killing machines until daybreak. But as tensions mount, ammunition dwindles, and Sergeant Wells’ injuries begin to get the best of him, is their biggest threat really outside?
While this is not the first Neil Marshall directed horror movie I’ve reviewed (that would be The Descent), it is his directorial debut within the genre of horror (and only his second outing as director of a feature length film), and it makes for one hell of an entrance.
The whole movie feels genuinely creepy and tense, both of which grow as the story progresses, and the ending is so explosive that it ends up feeling very much like a cinematic orgasm of sorts.
The creature design is great, these are very close to what I think of when I think of what a werewolf should look like. The only thing keeping them from being dead-on is the fact that they are very tall and slender in frame, but that does nothing to detract from the visual enjoyment of the werewolves, in fact, I feel it adds something to it. Something about tall lanky werewolves surrounding your home in the middle of nowhere freaks you out, right?
The cast is great, and the acting reflects that, as Kevin McKidd and Sean Pertwee (son of Doctor Who’s Jon Pertwee, if I may let my nerd show a little here) both put in fantastic performances.
The writing is very fast paced, very dirty, and very British. I love it.
Should You See It:
If you’ve already seen The Descent and wonder what else Marshall can do with a horror film, then you should definitely check this one out.