A group of soldiers in the Scottish Highlands are on a training exercise when they find themselves being attacked by an unknown enemy that has torn their comrades limb from limb. As night falls, they seek refuge in an old farmhouse while their attackers prowl outside, waiting to pick them off one by one...
Written by director Neil Marshall, Dog Soldiers is a sturdy British werewolf movie for the Friday night beer and pizza crowd. Good British horror movies had pretty much died out in the late seventies and early eighties - even bad British horrors were thin on the ground. And oddly, the UK had never gone in much for werewolf movies, preferring vampires, devil worship and the undead, which gives Dog Soldiers a novel pedigree.
It's not entirely perfect. The film quickly settles into a cycle of attacks and earnest, hoarse-voiced conversations. And it's too obviously Night of the Living Dead with (very tall) werewolves. Also, the squaddies are largely interchangeable, with only Sean Pertwee and Kevin McKidd making much of an impression.
On the other hand, it has some enjoyable shocks and the monsters are suitably savage, wisely kept in the shadows (bright lights would have shown up the low budget). The transformations are mostly of the "collapse behind the table and emerge fanged and hairy" variety, but Bob Keen's effects are nice and gory (is it possible to impale yourself on a tree like that?) and there's even time for a couple of big explosions to liven things up a bit more. Plus there's the burning question "Who's going to turn into a werewolf?"
The script contains a few good twists (although the final one doesn't make much sense when you think about it) and surprisingly, some good laughs too. In fact, Pertwee secures the funniest moments, carrying off an amusing drunk act (you don't see many of them anymore) and the immortal line "Fetch!" with assurance. If there's not much to be learned from all this, except "be nice to dogs (but not werewolves)", then at least it's solid nourishment. Music by Mark Thomas (not the political comedian, one presumes).
British writer and director. Made his feature debut in 2002 with the popular werewolf chiller Dog Soldiers, while 2005's The Descent was a scary girls-in-caves horror. Moved into television, including episodes of Game of Thrones, before returning to the big screen with the troubled Hellboy reboot.