Dog Soldiers

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner5/09/2002

Four out of five stars
Running time: 105 mins

British ‘Soldiers vs Werewolves’ movie that is both extremely gory and frequently very funny – if you liked last year’s Ginger Snaps, this is the movie for you.

The film starts well, with two hapless campers getting Horribly Mauled by an unseen wolf-like growly thing. The next scene is weird and involves soldier Kevin McKidd 'failing an audition' for Liam Cunningham (who seems to get into EVERY dodgy Brit horror flick these days - he's also in the execrable and eminently missable Revelations) and his Elite Team Of Special Soldiers just because he won't kill a dog.

Some time later, Sean Pertwee and his small squad of soldiers (including McKidd) are dropped in a wooded area on some sort of mission. They soon discover they aren't alone and that something Big and Growly is killing people, rather viciously. Then they get 'rescued' by a very cute girl (Emma Cleasby) and all hole up in her house. And then they realise there are loads of the blighters...

The lesson the film has learned from other werewolf flicks is that you never clearly see one. (Ginger Snaps, for example, was let down by some dodgy effects in its final reel). Here, the werewolves wisely stick to the shadows and then later they're under-lit or only seen for brief flashes. Anyway, it works, as they're both weird and pretty scary-looking.

The film is also very gory. One scene in particular will have you going "Ewwww...Nooooooo!" Some of the gore is intended for Comedy Effect, such as when one of them is running and impales himself rather nastily on a branch. Ouch.

The script veers wildly between moments of high camp, screamingly funny off-the-wall lines and moments ("Sausages?" may be the best line of the year so far) and playing it straight. They've also paid close attention to the characters - football fans will appreciate one of them in particular.

The performances are all excellent, even, surprisingly, Sean Pertwee, who seems to have found exactly the right note for once. As for the others, McKidd makes a reliable lead and Cunningham is effectively creepy as always.

The point is, it works. It may be hard to tell just quite how much of the comedy was intentional, but you’ll find yourself laughing out loud a lot more times than during your run-of-the-mill Hollywood comedies. The horror elements work well too. And, to cap it all off, there's a lovely nod towards classic western The Searchers at the end.

In short, Dog Soldiers is well worth seeing if you like effective horror pics. And the fact that writer-director Marshall also edited his own film marks him out as a definite talent to watch. Recommended.

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Content updated: 23/02/2020 14:51

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