Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers was a major breath of fresh air when it was released in 2002. At the time British horror films were in the doldrums and Marshall came along and delivered a punchy, visceral and monumentally entertaining film which is as much as an acton film as it is a horror.
The set-up to Marshall’s 2002 fright pic is classic: Zulu meets Aliens – with werewolves – and it’s every bit as good as you would expect. Funny and scary, Dog Soldiers was a fantastic calling card for the British filmmaker who continues to impress two decades on. There’s a mastery of tone and tech on display which would make you think that Marshall was at least five films deep by the time he made Dog Soldiers.
Sean Pertwee and Kevin McKidd lead a small squad of British soldiers on training mission in the Scottish Highlands when they find a brutally wounded Special Forces captain (Liam Cunningham) amongst the remains of his team. Attacked by werewolves, they take refuge in an abandoned farmhouse in an attempt to hold-off their hairy attackers until dawn. And that’s when their troubles really begin.
Dog Soldiers is a film where all the elements came together at the right time and in the right order. It’s a perfect storm of talent and the film is pretty much perfect. It’s a low budget film but it never feels cheap. The acting talent is first rate, the effects are excellent and the screenplay is not only expertly constructed, but it’s also immensely quotable. It’s a monumentally assured film from a first-time writer/director and Neil Marshall‘s film can rightly sit alongside such great werewolf titles like An American Werewolf In London, The Howling and Wolfen.
I was hugely impressed by Dog Solders when I first saw it in 2002 – I like it even more twenty years on.
Movies In Focus will once again lavish immense praise on the great Second Sight Films for their flawless work on this new release of Dog Soldiers. You get commentaries galore – archive tracks from Neil Marshall and producers David E. Allen and Brian O’Toole sit alongside a new commentary from writer and Associate Professor of Film Alison Peirse. The set includes interviews with Marshall, Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd other cast members and the production team. There’s deleted scenes, trailers, documentaries – the lot.
Just go out and buy it – now.