Starring: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Liam Cunningham, Emma Cleasby
Directed by: Neil Marshall
Licensed by: Vertigo Releasing
Release Date: 4 K Digital restoration released on the 12th October 2020
In the Highlands of Scotland, six British soldiers on a training expedition, unexpectedly encounters a gruesome massacre of a group of special ops, with only one severely injured survivor remained by the name of Captain Richard Ryan (portrayed by Liam Cunningham), With Capt. Richard Ryan refusing to disclose his mission and the fear that the vicious attackers would come back, the British soldiers must team up to defend themselves, due to having no access to transport or communication. They are luckily rescued by a zoologist named Megan (Emma Cleasby) who offers them shelter in an isolated farmhouse located deep within the woods. The soldiers soon realize that the vicious attackers are none other than a pack of blood thirsty werewolves.
‘’Dog Soldiers’’ (2002) is a cult classic British horror film, which is filled with tension from the very beginning, through witnessing a couple brutally murdered in the woods located in Scotland. In North Wales, two hours before the brutal attack of the couple in the woods, the film introduces us to our main protagonist Pvt. Cooper (portrayed by the British actor Kevin McKidd from Trainspotting, Grey’s Anatomy), who fails to join the special forces as he refuses an order by Capt. Richard Ryan (portrayed by Irish actor Liam Cunningham), to shoot an innocent dog in cold blood. Four weeks later in the Highlands of Scotland, six British soldiers including Pvt. Cooper are set out on a training exercise against a special Air Service unit. The six British soldiers led by Sgt. Harry G. Wells (portrayed by the English actor Sean Pertwee from Event Horizon, Gotham), establish a hilarious tight knit group dynamic through their crude and aggressive dialogue towards each other. These soldiers soon stumble towards a gruesome massacre of a group of special ops, with only one survivor left which is none other than Capt. Richard Ryan (Liam Cunningham). They are soon rescued by a zoologist named Megan (Emma Cleasby), who drives them to an isolated farmhouse located within the woods, where they would retreat until the full moon disappears at dawn, as they were aggressively attacked by a pack of werewolves, who had killed one of their soldiers but had only extremely wounded another, due to Pvt. Cooper helping the wounded soldier by not leaving him behind to die. .
The film’s main protagonist Pvt. Cooper (Kevin McKidd) is a likeable character from the start, due to his refusal of killing a dog in cold blood, which shows that he has a conscience and is someone who would not leave a man behind, which was prevalent when he helped a severely injured fellow soldier, knowing his life could of been endangered, which made his character someone to root for, due to his characteristics that make him a natural born leader with a heart. The character of Capt. Richard Ryan (Liam Cunningham) was an unlikeable character due to his cruel nature, as his character ordered Cooper to shoot an innocent dog and when Cooper refused to, we see Capt. Richard Ryan shoot the dog himself off-screen. Throughout the film Capt. Richard Ryan had no redeemable qualities, making his character potentially traitorous, through giving off a vibe as though he is hiding something for not disclosing his mission to the British soldiers, which might help them defeat the blood lusting werewolves. Overall the cast were brilliant in their roles and gave a performance that was memorable, as they delivered their dialogue perfectly, as the humour appeared natural and wasn’t forced, as they gave a real reaction to the mayhem that was going on around them.
I truly enjoyed this film as it kept me entertained throughout, due to the film’s action packed sequences in the isolated farmhouse, which were especially fun to watch, as we got to see the soldiers use their training to defend themselves. The gory death scenes will hopefully please fans of the body horror genre as well, due to the gruesome portrayal of blood, guts and intestines shown on screen. These action packed sequences and emotional scenes are very effective due to the film’s soundtrack that was composed by Mark Thomas. I also loved the references to other movies in the film, such as the reference to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead, through naming one of the soldiers Corporal Bruce Campbell (Thomas Lockyer), after the actor who played Ash in the Evil Dead franchise. Another reference I noticed was the character of Sgt. Harry G. Wells which was named after the author with the same initials who wrote the science fiction novel called ‘’The War of the Worlds’’ . Speaking of the character of Sgt. Harry G. Wells, I loved Sean Pertwee performance during a scene, where he had to be punched twice in order to be knocked out while they closed his wounds with Krazy glue, which was used during the Vietnam War to stop blood and close wounds. This scene was extremely hilarious to watch, due to reading that the actor Sean Pertwee not only got punched for real, but had taken on his role quite literally by having a few drinks before the scene, which made his portray of a drunken individual very convincing. I loved that they used practical effects instead of CGI as I’m not a fan of films that have CGI werewolves, as it brings me out of a film when it’s not done effectively. Two negative aspects about the film for me was that we didn’t get to witness a full werewolf transformation scene, as this film had a lower budget, but the filmmakers did their very best through having shown the transformation off-screen, as the film only shows the claws coming out before the full transformation, which I felt was still effective. I also felt that the plot twists in the movie were a bit predictable, but none the less I was still intrigued to find out, how it was all going to end.
I highly recommend watching Dog Soldiers (2002) as I guarantee you will be stuck to your seat from start to finish, from its hilarious dialogue, that is full of British humour and delivered by a great cast, to the intense action and gory deaths portrayed on screen, that will please both action movie lovers due to the film being action packed throughout and for horror movie fans who are there to experience the extremely gruesome kills.
Dog Soldiers has been titled a cult classic British horror movie, due to being directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones) and also by having grossed £5 million at the box office when it was released 18 years ago in 2002.
Special Thanks to Vertigo Releasing, who has achieved multiple awards for their innovative campaigns for quality independent films, have now announced that the British horror cult classic film ‘Dog Soldiers’ is now been re- released digitally as a 4K restoration release on the 12th October 2020 with newly commissioned promotional artwork by legendary illustrator Chris Malbon.
Overall: 8 /10