Dog Soldiers

Movie Review by EDF

Starring: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, Liam Cunningham, Thomas Lockyer
Director: Neil Marshall

Here’s a rare beast – a British movie that not only has more ‘bite’ than most other Hollywood horror movies but also has the right to stand beside the classic AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. Written and directed by Neil Marshall whose impressive feature debut is not only enjoyable but is also funny, even though at times you’ll feel guilty for laughing out loud.

Set in the Scottish countryside, we find a couple hiking and setting up camp for the night. Later that night while making love in their tent, they are attacked and are now just two more statistics in the missing persons file.

Completing his part in a Special Ops exercise, Lawrence Cooper (Kevin McKidd) finds that the tests are not quite over yet. The ruthless Captain Richard Ryan (Liam Cunningham) tells Cooper that although he has reached the top of the class, he must prove himself by shooting one of the army dogs. Cooper refuses to follow the order and he is kicked out of Ryan’s command.

Four weeks later, Cooper is sent with Sergeant Harry Wells (Sean Pertwee) and four others on a training mission to Scotland. The object is to reach base by avoiding the ‘enemy’. The training squad are unaware that the enemy is already watching them. Sitting around the campfire that night and exchanging stories, the men are startled by a cow that appears to have been attacked and Cooper notices there are teeth marks on the cow. The next morning while investigating what attacked the cow, the men spot a distress flare in the distance, which they go and check out. They uncover a Special Ops camp that’s been trashed and bloodied with only one survivor, an injured Captain Ryan. In shock, Ryan’s making little sense describing who or what attacked them. As their two-way radio isn’t working either, Wells decides to abandon the training exercise, but before they leave the camp, they find some tranquillisers among the Special Ops weapons.

They set off but panic overtakes the men when they realise that the unknown enemy has them surrounded. But luck is on their side when a woman, Megan (Emma Cleasby), having decided to investigate the gunshots she heard the night before, arrives on the scene in her Land Rover and helps the men escape in it. While fleeing they drive by an empty house in the middle of nowhere and stop to investigate. Inside they find food still cooking on the gas stove. After a brief respite, they return to the Land Rover but its engine has been destroyed and the enemy has surrounded the house…

Let me make one thing clear, this is one of the best British werewolf movies ever. There are very few people who would attempt a debut horror movie and also write about a group of characters that you actually want to see alive by the end of the movie. Matched with tight editing and humorous dialogue, the script rarely turns the movie into a farce. As for the creatures, we only get to see glimpses of them throughout the movie. The story has a few twists, but DOG SOLDIERS is more about soldiers trying their best to survive the unusual series of events that unfolds before them.

5 out of 6 stars

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