Werewolves…they’ve struggled to be anything of note within horror. Take An American Werewolf in London out of the picture & there really aren’t many decent ones. The problem lies in just how cheesy they are often portrayed. That is not a problem in writer & director Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers.
Starring Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee and Liam Cunningham it sees a group of British soldiers on a training exercise face off against an unrelenting & vicious group of werewolves in the remote Scottish Highlands.
What we get is a gloriously entertaining, amusing & uber-violent horror movie that thrills from beginning to end. Baring a few flaws, such as the dated references to a football game, it’s arguably the best werewolf movie since An American Werewolf in London.
One of the things that makes it such a great movie is the realism. The location is perfectly believable & the revelations that come at the end regarding the werewolves makes sense. These creatures are vicious but smart & able to work as a team. They’re going up against a group of trained soldiers who have their own skills but also care about each other deeply.
Their relationships are another highlight of the film. The chemistry between them is great & as the situation gets direr, you’ll suffer alongside them. Quality acting, especially from McKidd & Pertwee makes the characters so memorable.
The pacing of the movie is solid, a first half all about setting up the characters & remote location followed by the intense werewolf assault. Lulls in action, once the survivors hole up in a farmhouse, serve to add some light relief & occasional humorous moments. These times end up being a nice opportunity for us, as the viewer, to take a breath before the next action/horror scene kicks in.
The werewolves look fantastic. Beast like but not without human elements too.
Dog Soldiers is a great movie but it’s not flawless. For starters there are as few too many references that really date it such as the references to the England beating of Germany, 5 goals to one a long time ago.
Also, the lone female role (Emma Cleasby as Megan) is a bit ‘cookie cutter’. Her character a bit confused & some of her lines near the end quite cheesy. That also alongside some of the English ‘banter’ has the dialogue falling flat on occasion.
It’s small complaints about a horror movie that is loved by many for all the right reasons. If werewolves aren’t your thing, this is a movie that will change your mind.
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