Sunday, July 8, 2007

Dog Soldiers (2002)

Fear 2/5
Gore 3/5
Creepiness 1/5
Entertainment 5/5
Nightmares 1/5

In my humble opinion, this is the greatest werewolf movie ever made, a seamless blend of horror and action with a solid script, fine acting and effects that are top-notch. Director Neil Marshall's first full length film, Dog Soldiers was followed by the equally impressive modern classic The Descent, establishing him as a force to be reckoned with in the horror world (after only two films!)

Dog Soldiers is, essentially, a war movie with werewolves as the enemy combatants. A group of Scottish soldiers are on, what they believe to be, a routine training exercise in the wooded hills of Northern England. They soon run across the remains of their rival team's camp and the remains of their rival team. As quickly as they realize that something evil is afoot, they are attacked by a pack of werewolves and manage to barricade themselves into a small cottage tucked away in the dark forest along with a local woman whom they run into during their escape.

So many things could have gone wrong with this, but they don't for a number of reasons. First off, the script is very well done. The dialogue is natural and smart and the story is very well done - with the exception of one or two one-liners that, by Action Movie law, are required to be inserted. The acting is great as well, (Kevin McKidd from the HBO series Rome is the main guy) and the characters are believable and never hammy or forced.

The big triumph, however, is the werewolves themselves. With an almost complete lack of CGI effects, the monsters are all "analog", latex and prosthetics and really quite ridiculous when you get a good look at them. The thing is, you never really do get a good look at them so there isn't enough time to realize how silly they are. . . until the end but by then you don't care too much because you're won over.

There is a lot borrowed from other films - Night of the Living Dead, Evil Dead and Aliens are the three obvious ones - but it's done as an homage and not a rip-off. In fact, one of the characters is named Bruce Campbell. Like I said, this is more of a classic war movie than a monster movie. The characters bond in that macho-man kind of way that usually happens when Lee Marvin is on the screen. The fight scenes are well-crafted and very exciting.

I could go on, but the bottom line is that you need to see this. Dog Soldiers is, as my friend Hurricane Leigh would say, TRIUMPHANT. A sequel is planned, though Marshall is not attached to it so I am skeptical.

- Complaint Dept


the fucking beard said...

i second that it is the best werewolf movie ever, if not directly tied for first place with american werewolf.

Joe said...

I third that it is the best Werewolf film ever. ITs one of those paramilitary/action/horror films that you cant help but enjoy. The Descent was kick-ass too.