Saturday, 13 October 2012

Dog Soldiers (2002)

We are now up against live, hostile targets. So, if Little Red Riding Hood should show up with a bazooka and a bad attitude, I expect you to chin the bitch!

Six squaddies are on a training exercise in Scotland, but a group of special forces plan to use the soldiers as bait for a rumoured lupine predator. Of course it goes horribly wrong and our group of soldiers become besieged by werewolves in a remote cottage.  The first act of the film is easily the best; the introduction of the 6 main soldiers is certainly on a par with Predator, probably better because of the British humour; the atmosphere created by Neil Marshall and DOP Sam McCurdy is very sinister, spooky and adds real tension to the unfolding story.  The chase through the woods is really well done; lots of sinister back lit trees, werewolves flitting in and out of view, desperation of the soldiers, and all mixed up with a wolf view point adding a different dimension.

By the time the guys are holed up in a deserted cottage we are into the familiar territory of any number of siege films; not least Zulu, Tremors or a "Living Dead" film.  In fact Zulu is explicitly mentioned once and there are a few other nods to the classic film, but not the only film that is referenced.  However, though they are stuck in a cottage the film doesn't stagnate; a smart story and the British sense of humour wins out, and everything clips along at just the right tempo.  Sean Pertwee is magnificent as Sergeant Wells, and Kevin McKidd is very good as Private Cooper, but there is also a very clever understated performance from Liam Cunningham as Captain Ryan.

Overall Dog Soldiers is a really cool film, not amazing, not even that scary, but really good fun.  The characters are all well written and introduced in a way that allows a lot of fun to be had with them.  The effects are good (given what presumably is a modest budget) and the werewolves look like nothing seen before.