Friday, October 16, 2015

31 Days of Horror-Day 16: Dog Soldiers (2002)

(dir. Neil Marshall)


*First time viewing

A squad of British soldiers go up against werewolves in the Scottish Highlands.

Neil Marshall directed one of my favorite horror movies of the past decade, The Descent, so my expectations for Dog Soldiers was pretty high. Man, were they met! While the film’s werewolf effects strain under the budget at times, and of course it doesn’t come close to delivering the sheer palm sweating terror of Marshall’s later horror film, Dog Soldiers is a tense B-movie blast from start to finish.  As with The Descent, the creature feature aspect is balanced out by strong performances and layered character relationships, making the whole proceeding feel more like high-drama than it seemingly should. With Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, and Liam Cunningham leading the charge, Dog Soldiers is given plenty of macho gravitas. You can practically smell the musk coming off the film. But ultimately this masculinity gets slightly undercut by a great 3rd act twist, a reminder of why Marshall stands at the forefront of creating complex female characters in horror.

There’s a bare-bones simplicity to the story, one that keeps emotions high and the action beats impeccably paced. Like so many zombie films have done over the years, Dog Soldiers keeps most of the film’s events centralized to one location, making the werewolf siege on the small woodland house seem like a world-ending event. The film’s action far outshines many films with much larger budgets and it’s clear why HBO hired him to direct some of Game of Thrones most memorable episodes.

Scare Factor: 2/5 Dog Soldiers is an incredible amount of fun, especially for those who love seeing classic movie monsters re-purposed in new ways. The film may have flown under your radar but I assure you it is one of the genre’s best kept secrets.

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