Liam Cunningham as Captain Ryan Kevin McKidd as Private Cooper Sean Pertwee as Sergeant Wells Emma Cleasby as Megan
It has been a long standing adage of mine that if you want to find out what the future holds in film making, check out the film festivals. Now granted, some of those films aren’t worth their weight in salt, but you can find some interesting diamonds in the rough. In 2002, Dog Soldierswas nominated for Best Film at the Catalonian International Film Festival, won Silver at the Luxembourg International Film Festival, and won both the Golden Raven and the Pegasus Audience Award at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film. So what is all the hubbub about?
Dog Soldiers starts by showing us a lovely couple that happens to be camping to get away from the hustle and bustle of the real world. That night they are attacked by some type of monster that rips both the tent and them to shreds. We then go to 2 hours earlier to witness the end of a field test for an Army private trying to get into the Special Forces. It doesn’t end well.
Dog Soldiers then whisks us away to 4 weeks later where we find an Army unit on a training exercise. They are supposed to be playing a game of “capture the flag” against a Special Forces unit but things don’t go as planned. The air is crisp, the moon is full, and there are lycanthropes in the area that are hungry. The Army unit, or what is left of them, find shelter in an apparently abandoned house and discover that their most difficult battle will be to survive until dawn.
Dog Soldiers was written and directed by Neil Marshall. If that name does not sound familiar, he is also the writer and director of The Descent and a member of the “splat pack” with the likes of Eli Roth, Darren Lynn Bousman and others.
With a meager budget and no CGI, Marshall has put together Dog Soldiers to be one of the best werewolf movies I have seen. The story is great, the acting is top notch, the dialogue makes sense and the editing (also done by Marshall) makes for a very well put together horror film.
The lycans are both costume and animatronics and they look great. They are reminiscent of the ones in The Howling. The gore is well placed with soldiers slipping around on entrails. Kevin McKidd (Private Cooper) will be recognizable to the fans of the series Rome and Sean Pertwee (Sergeant Wells) has been doing serious British television since the late 80’s. Needless to say, the caliber of actors in Dog Soldiers is high.
Regrettably, Dog Soldiers was not picked up for theatrical release in the states so it went to the “straight to DVD” pile. Don’t let that fool you though. Find Dog Soldiers, buy it and view it over and over again. It will soon be placed right up there with the best of the best of werewolf films in your library. It already is in mine.