A couple of years back, my brother started a collection of action figures from Neca and Sota featuring horror’s scariest icons. One of them happened to be a werewolf, but we haven’t seen the movie Dog Soldiers, which was the inspiration for the toy. Well, not until today when his officemate loaned him a video of the 2002 movie featuring Grey Anatomy’s Kevin McKidd with his bad Scottish accent as Private Cooper and Game of Thrones’ Liam Cunningham as Special Ops Captain Ryan (no first name) trying to survive an overnight battle with a pack of werewolves.
Dog Soldiers does its own take of the lycanthrope lore when a platoon of soldiers sent on the Scottish Highlands for a military exercise find themselves being used as bait by a group of Special Ops trying to catch themselves a werewolf. Apparently, the government wants to experiment on the creature which they are eyeing as weapon against the state’s enemies. However, the whole team is wiped out with the exception of Captain Ryan when they realize they are dealing with a pack. Ryan is rescued by the platoon, who in turn escapes pursuit with the help of zoologist Megan (Emma Cleasby) who tells the men about the werewolves. Now holed up in a remote cabin in the woods, the group must stay alive until sunrise when the werewolves return to human form.
I must say that Dog Soldiers was a pretty decent horror movie. A bit slow in the beginning because of the forced drama that the character of Sam Pertwee (Sergeant Wells) had to deliver which perhaps, was meant to establish what a rough life a soldier has to endure. When the story moves along aka when the werewolves started their assault, the film started to get interesting.
In truth, there were a lot of plotholes in the main story and also some sequential inconsistencies, but I was still entertained with the movie because it was a horror no brainer. There was no twist that one had to figure out, just a lot of blood and intestines getting pulled out of bodies, giant dogs leading strategic attacks against the humans and a lot of bad fake accents. I liked the character of Spoon (Darren Morfitt) and was rooting for him to survive till the end. He had a lot of spunk, and a lot of nerve fighting the werewolf with his bare hands. (I’m not telling whether he made it out alive or not).
But most especially, I applaud the make up and special effects team for this movie because the monster models were some of best that I’ve seen up until this date, and yes, it holds itself up against the best CGIs out there. So kudos to the entire team, they deserve as great big pat on the back and the shoutout by way of the Now Playing edition action figure by Sota.
All in all, it was a good movie, a bit cheesy, a bit campy, true. But as for mindless horror, its right up there ahead of the pack.
PS. I did a bit of research and it turns out that this movie received the Golden Raven and Public’s Award to The Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film in the year it was released. This was also the directorial debut of British fillmaker Neil Marshall. The movie also got a 76 percent fresh rating on rottentomatoes.com and a 6.8 star rating from imdb with a series and a sequel currently in the works. I hope they still use models an animatronix rather than CGI for part 2.