SR Picks: Dog Soldiers

Published 6 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 6:57 am,

dog soldiers 04 SR Picks: Dog Soldiers

This is the first post in a new column here at Screen Rant: SR Picks. SR Picks will highlight older films that you may not have heard of or you’ve never bothered to watch, but are worth checking out. Enjoy!

“You’re right behind me, aren’t you?”

Dog Soldiers was released in the UK in 2002 and never made it to a release in the United States. I don’t know why, but we all missed out due to that decision in this short lived, one-time franchise. (I say franchise because I can hope, can’t I?)

If you like werewolf movies and you like quality werewolf movies, boy do I have a treat in store for you.

Dog Soldiers sort of has three beginnings, but one definitive ending. Oh where do I start?

It’s the classic movie start: We see a couple camping out in the woods. It’s night time and they hear something outside the tent. We are then treated to the tent zipper being pulled ever so slowly down. Out the opening the screaming girl goes, followed by the blood spattered boyfriend. Their names are irrelevant at this point! There’s somethin’ in the woods folks.

We then switch to a special ops training test to establish a few characters. Trainee Private Cooper (Played by Journeyman star Kevin McKidd) is finishing up a special forces test. The man in charge, a cold war-hardened soldier, Capt. Ryan, (Liam Cunningham) in his own, special ops sort of way, congratulates Cooper on not being caught so quickly, but as one last test, orders the soldier to shoot the dog they used to track him down with. Cooper refuses the order on grounds it is not necessary to shoot THAT dog. In making a point Capt. Ryan caps the dog without an ounce of emotion. Needless to say, Pvt. Cooper is booted from the unit and his animosity is initiated with the cold blooded Ryan.

We jump ahead to the present. A squad of British soldiers are on a training simulation in the Scottish forest.

The squad consists of our now familiar Cooper, (Kevin McKidd, who has also been in Trainspotting), Terry (played by Leslie Simpson), Joe (Chris Robson), Bruce (Thomas Lockyer), Spoon (Darren Morfitt) and Sergeant Wells (Sean Pertwee).

The ever boring routine of training changes instantly as they come across the gutted remains (lots of sausages used for intestines!) of another squad. The trauma of the situation becomes clear when they find this squad was a well armed special ops squad and they were still all killed. The radio equipment is destroyed and there is but one survivor. A completely shocked and terrified Capt. Ryan, (Yea, from earlier) who is saying over and over again there was only supposed to be one.

And the fun for us, the audience, begins. If you can call not breathing fun.

In what I think is the only true way to present the nemesis, we don’t see them for the first 30 minutes, maybe more (Sorry, I get really sucked in every time I watch this flick), we only see hints of something. A furtive glimpse of something here, a clawed hand there, a quick disembowelment – We never see the monsters (“There was only supposed to be one”) until later on at night.

The soldiers do what they do best. They stay focused on who they are and what they need to do. They convert their weapons back to live firing munitions and hole up in a cottage defending against these beasts through the night.

The night is long, hard and comes with one surprise after another. In the end it even gets down to one of the soldiers trying to duke it out with one of these 8-foot tall monsters in a grand fashion that only a true soldier could muster. Operative word, TRY as he takes the motto “Don’t go down without a fight” right to the end. For a second I thought that large iron skillet he grabbed was going to work!

In one description of the pack, a neighbor says something to the effect of: “They’re really good people except for once a month.” I am not sure they meant for that to be funny because I am too busy digging my nails into the couch.

In my mind, this is one of the best low budget movies I’ve ever seen and furthers it’s own genre. It’s superbly written to showcase the desperate men doing the only thing they can, fight and survive for as long as possible, hopefully surviving until daybreak and you can feel it.

The monsters are portrayed in a mix of shadows, outlines, steaming bodies at the edge of the light. In what I think is the perfect presentation, after being teased for a while, we get to see them full on in the light and these beasts awesome for all their simplicity. (No CGI!)

dog soldiers 02 SR Picks: Dog Soldiers

For me, a classic scene is when one of the squad risks his life to get to a jeep and drive it back to the house. As he parks the jeep and turns off the motor, we’re looking at him from the right seat and we see the steam of an exhale from the back. He never looks back. He just says: “You’re right behind me, aren’t you?”. His answer is a second exhale of steam. He turns to meet his end valiantly.

This flick truly reminded me of Night of the Living Dead, the monsters were just a bit faster in this one. A sense of overwhelming despair that overlays a small glimmer of hope that they will make it to daybreak.

Dog Soldiers is produced by Christopher Figg (Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Trainspotting) and written, directed and edited by Neil Marshall (Killing Time) and amazingly, this was his directorial debut.

The film won multiple awards overseas: The Golden Raven Award and the Pegasus Audience Award at the 2002 Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film and the Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film at the Luxembourg International Film Festival/Cinenygma. Neither of these merits are easy to come by.

I’ve seen rumor of a sequel, but I hope that doesn’t happen because I fear they will only ruin the franchise unless they get it done with the right people, the right attitude and the right approach.

Source: SciFi.com

TAGS: dog soldiers, sr picks

19 Comments

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  1. hmmm…I like werewolf movies and vampire movies AND I’m a Mckidd fan (He used to be rumoured to play Thor but they finally took him down from IMDB on that project)

    I’ll check this film out

  2. You won’t regret it Rob.

  3. One of my favourite movies, it’s great don’t miss it =)

  4. I do a fan website on Liam Cunningham (Capt Ryan) and this was the first horror flick I “ever” watched all the way through just because of Liam. As Bruce notes, it came out in UK first adn to see it originally, I had to view the UK DVD. For those who can get the UK DVD and watch it by some means, there is a cast commentary that is HILARIOUS! In the UK, reviewers were actually reviewing it with the movie as a “must listen to”. For those in US/Canada, you can’t view region 2 DVDs on your normal DVD player, but you can set region 2 on your computer DVD for a one-time shot or, as I’ve done, get a USB DVD drive and permanently set it on region 2.

  5. Simply put: The best werewolf film ever made. Period.

  6. This is a BRILLIANT film!, full of typical Brit squaddie humour and one liners… You gotta see it, its a classic,

  7. Exactly everyone. I’m glad you guys think the same.

    It does worry me that someone MIGHT make a sequel and it not being the original folk who did it though.

    The little snippets I’ve caught have been how the sequel picks right up where this one left off, as an American squad picks up Cooper, and it starts all over again.

  8. Another little-known movie that I THINK was British (not sure) that everyone might find interesting was BELOW-which takes place aboard a submarine , and while it peters out toward the end, has some genuinely creepy moments. Done by the same guy who did PITCH BLACK. If you ever rent it, watch for the mirror scene. Brrrr. As for werewolf movies ,It’s always INFURIATED me that most rave about absolutly overrated GARBAGE like THE HOWLING, for example,(sorry, gang, I think it’s one of the WORST werewolf movies ever made) and overlook true touches of class like this. I thought SILVER BULLET was another overlooked great werewolf story.

  9. I’ve seen Below and agree, it is scary for the most part, and the truth of what happened, well, didn’t see that coming myself.

    As for Dog Soldiers, absolutely love it, and agree with previous comments, the commentary by the director, writer and cast is great fun. Liam Cunningham is dead serious in the movie, but hilarious in real life (and Irish). There is also a commentary by the producers, which I think is for Americans. I’m not sure, you may not get the better one with it.

    Great review and totally agree. Certainly one of the best UK horrors, but also one of the better UK films in recent years.

  10. LOL – Yep.. one of many and that’s a classic.

  11. I have to say, I have owned this movie on Move for around 2-3 years now, and through that time I have purchased the disc 3 times. I must watch it once a month. It is an amazing movie and no, this isn’t the only one in my collection.

    If you like a good story seriously, go watch it, it is simply put ‘A CLASSIC’.

    @Bruce, I have heard for around 2 years that they we’re making another but I can’t see it happening, I hope to god that it doesn’t.

    @Dave, Silver Bullet for the win. Classic movie, also Corey Haim was pretty sweet in it, much like ‘The Lost Boys’.

    Great review btw, nice to see Dog Soldiers being recognised.

  12. Also, best quote in the whole movie is

    *Spoon*… ‘I hope I give you the sh%t’s’

    Seriously good.

  13. lol… this review made me watch it again, for the 200 time probably. I just want to say.. BONE lol. classic

  14. Dog Soldiers 2: Fresh Meat.
    Last I heard it had already been made but might not have a distributor yet as I can’t find it on DVD anywhere.

  15. Ah, well maybe its for the best, the storyline seemed to be on the bad side. I heard it was suppose to be released early this year, but obviously not.

  16. On further searching, I think they might have just given this a miss and cancelled the project completely. If you do a search there are plenty of sites with the plot outline for the film.

  17. Since Liam Cunningham is supposed to be in this (I assume in a cameo flashback), I’ve been tracking the sequel as much as possible. The last word I heard was that they (the producers) had postponed filming until this year to wait for certain lunar event that was to occur this year to film against. I can’t remember what it was, but assumed they might lose Liam in the process if the new filming date doesn’t work for him.

  18. @Bruce, She said she was being a b****, because it’s that time of the month.
    Get it? PMS, full moon? XD

    And LOL at spiderwomen..

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