Tuesday, October 9, 2012
A squad of British soldiers (among its members are Sean Pertwee as the grizzled sergeant and Kevin McKidd as the main character Cooper) is on a training exercise in the Scottish wilderness when it stumbles upon the dismembered remains of the Special Forces team they were supposed to operate with, along with the injured Captain Ryan (Liam Cunningham). As the night begins to grow, the squad is attacked by a ferocious enemy with a lot of hair, claws, sharp teeth, and a bad attitude. The men are saved by Megan (Emma Cleasby), who drives them to an isolated house where the werewolves besiege them, and the humans try to survive the night as their ammunition and numbers dwindle.
I'm trying to think of a plot element in Dog Soldier that hasn't been done before, and I can't seem to recall any. We get the soldiers fighting off the first wave of monster attacks, the escape attempt that ends disastrously, the infected member of the group putting the others at risk, and the final confrontation with one big, bad baddie, but like I said, it's done remarkably well with great conviction on the part of the cast. The characters might only be written in the most basic terms - the hero, the gruff leader, the girl, the sneak, the scared kid, the gung-ho soldier - but the actors all work together, and no one seems out of place.
Filmed on a low-budget in Luxemburg at mostly one location, Dog Soldiers never feels cheap or small. Granted the one full transformation occurs off-screen (but is built up effectively), but the werewolves look great when we see them. Marshall creates tension by keeping them in the shadows, only showing glimpses of fangs, snouts, or claws or giving us black-and-white point-of-view shots. Plenty of times we only see a claw slashing through a window or a door as the soldiers desperately try to fight them off.
In short, if you're a horror fan, Dog Soldiers is worth checking out. It strikes a fine balance between the horrific blood-and-guts stuff and the more tongue-in-cheek macho humor. Easily the finest of its sort since Predator.