Holloywood disappoints. I’ve mentioned this before. In order to find decent cinema it’s often necessary to look to the independent film sector. Good independent movies are not exactly common, but it’s easier to forgive the indie crowd when they produce a pile of dirt because they make their movies from the heart and are prepared to ignore the populist choices while making their films. On the other hand, when a good independent film comes along it can blow you away!
Dog Soldiers (2001) follows a squad of British soldiers on a training exercise in the remote Scottish highlands. Their training scenario has them behind enemy lines and they have to get back to their side. They select a route and set off. The squad are up against special forces types but aren’t phased by their opponents as they’re dripping with testosterone and bravado.
Along the way they encounter the remains of the special forces squad who appear to have been attacked. There’s one survivor, a Captain Ryan. He’s been injured and has a bad chest wound that looks like an animal attack. The soldiers try to get out of the area by calling for a helicopter but discover that their radio gear is no longer working. A closer inspection reveals a bug has been planted in the radio. Deciding that they need to get out of the area they start to hike out, concerned that whatever attacked the special forces team is coming back.
As they move out they are indeed attacked and take casualities. As they leg it they run into a girl in a jeep who takes them to a house where they make a temporary base and try to survive the night, a night with a full moon. Realising that the squad are being hunted by werewolves they try to fight off their attackers but soon discover that they’re not just fighting the creatures outside the house…
I saw Dog Soldiers in the cinema and hated it. At the time there was a spate of British horror movies that got cinema releases that most of them didn’t deserve. Having watched Dog soldiers again I have to say that it was one of those films that didn’t deserve its time in the picture house. This does not mean that it’s bad. In fact, Dog Soldiers is fucking excellent!
Dog Soldiers tells a simple story set over the course of only a couple of nights but it is jammed packed with good characters, great scenes, and a developed sense of humour that works brilliantly. There are some funny moments that honestly made me laugh out loud and there are some great horror moments too, filled with situational terror and copious amounts of blood and intestines.
The two principle actors, Sean Pertwee and Kevin McKidd gave cracking performances and their portrayal of army life is one of the best recruitment pieces I’ve seen since Black Hawk Down. Then, it was explained to me what’s off with Dog Soldiers. It’s a really bad movie for the cinema but excellent on DVD; it’s kinda like a made for TV movie in that it works so well on the small screen, partly due to the actors being people you associate with their TV appearances.
So, Two Thumbs Up for Dog Soldiers (on DVD).