Is this really happening? Do we really have another great werewolf movie? This is Neal Marshall’s debut movie and it is fucking good. It propelled him into the championship and soon enough, premier league with movies like The Descent, Doomsday and Centurion. One of the first things you will notice about this movie is phenomenal sound design. Later in the movie, with the full blown massacre going on, it’s easy to lose focus of this very important element. The second thing is the strong visceral vibe, perfectly synced with the military motive. This raw, uncompromising and more importantly real approach is the thing that elevated Dog Soldiers from other movies. Things are fucked up and they are not afraid to show it. Finally, we have humor as the final element that binds the whole thing together. Very amusing and realistic dialogue with standard issue jokes and jabs among soldiers.
Six British soldiers are left in the Scottish Highlands on training exercise. They are supposed to outsmart Special Air Service guys, who are guarding a perimeter that our soldier boyz are supposed to breach. For private Cooper this is also another chance to go against guys who deemed him unworthy to join SAS several weeks earlier. However, when they locate the SAS base, the whole mission changes. There’s no one at the site, only blood, body parts and a lot of weapons…
After all this praise, it’s time to talk about a couple of things that were not so good. Frantic editing, especially during those nature shots, was a bit confusing. Since this is his first movie, we can let this one slide, especially since we saw that Neil improved as time went by. However, one of the biggest flaws of this movie is, strangely, originality. This is basically Predator with a werewolf instead of, well, predator. You have the same basic ingredients, army men in the middle of nowhere being chased by a monster much more powerful than all their weapons. Even the characters are somewhat similar, you have sir Davos Seaworthy AKA Liam Cunningham as Capt. Ryan playing the same role as Dillon AKA Carl Weathers and Megan is actually Anna. However, can you actually make an original movie involving these elements? Predator borrowed from other movies and Dog Soldiers, perhaps inadvertently borrowed from Predator, but all of them are featuring the same mythical story concept that’s as old as humanity itself. Instead of focusing on that, we should focus on phenomenal practical effects, without overuse of CGI. The werewolves look frightening and realistic and it’s amazing how brutal and gory some of the scenes are. This is a true horror movie, very well directed and with an interesting subject. If you fell in love with the whole military exercise gone wrong thingy, perhaps check out an ordinary thriller Basic from 2003.
Director: Neil Marshall
Cast: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, Chris Robson, Craig Conway
Fun Facts: In the scene where Wells asks Cooper to knock him out, Kevin McKidd (Cooper) throws a stage punch the first time, but misjudges the distance of the second and catches Sean Pertwee (Wells) on the nose. Pertwee didn’t feel the punch however as he really was drunk for that scene.