Tan and I couldn’t think of a movie that involved both werewolves and angels. If you can think of one, let us know in the comments! Instead we reviewed a horror flick neither one of us had seen before: Dog Soldiers.
Hello my lovely frenemy! Before we get down to reviewing the nitty gritty details, I have to confess that I hadn’t seen this flick before. When considering what movies to review, I did notice this one popping up on a number of lists for top 10 werewolf movies. It was actually passed up for North American theatrical release for a variety of reasons, including the accents. And, I’m sorry, but that’s just a ridiculous reason. Trainspotting anybody? It’s obviously not the high production value Hollywood movie that we’re seeing in this genre. But, for a low budget British horror flick what are your thoughts?
Ridiculous indeed – horror movies with accents (even subtitles!) are perfectly acceptable to me.
My very first thought having finished the movie was that this was Dead Snow, but with werewolves. Isolated cabin where the undead enemy surrounds the small group of humans, eventually breaks in, tears out their guts, and infects most of the group until there is just one person left. That being said, both are pretty entertaining low-budget horror flicks, so I was happy. I did, however have a small problem with one character: the dog.
Aw, why no love for the dog? I, for one, was glad that there was a friendly canine presence because I needed to anthropomorphize something in order to lighten some of the super intense moments. Truth be told, I’m a complete wimp when it comes to the genre (I know, I know) but it doesn’t stop me from watching or reading. And I think Dog Soldiers is a pretty solid flick.
I can definitely see why, despite the production value the movie is on so many top werewolf movie lists. It’s a comedy-horror that’s sort of reminiscent of the cult classic, and one of my personal faves, An American Werewolf in London. There are plenty of genre in-jokes with an ample mix of gross-out gore to add a bit of dark humour to the movie. As you point out, it’s not entirely original and has a plot that follows a certain formula but I found it highly entertaining as a whole.
It doesn’t hurt that Kevin McKidd (Trainspotting, Grey’s Anatomy) is in it either. In fact, the acting overall was neither flat nor over-acted as some lower budget horror films tend to be. At least that’s how I felt. Not necessarily Oscar, or more fittingly BAFTA, worthy but good for a scare. Apparently, it did win an award at The Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film in 2002..!
Ok.. here is my beef with the dog:
At the beginning of the movie, McKidd’s character refuses to kill the dog on his training mission, earning him a dismissal from the Special Ops team he is training for because he can’t follow orders. Now, to me, this scene has foreshaddowing written all over it – at some point, this character will have to kill a seemingly innocent dog to save himself or others. But that never happened. I kept waiting for the cottage dog to do something evil.
But, instead of siding with his pack – the werewolves that have presumable raised and cared for this dog – he sides with the human interlopers who are killing them. At the end of the movie, it’s McKidd and his new canine friend, which he’ll probably take with him back to civilization. Couldn’t they have hinted that he was a weredog or something, just to bring the movie full circle?
Here is a question for you: (I’m not sure I’ve seen enough werewolf movies to answer this myself) What does Dog Soldiers contribute to the genre? For me, if a movie is going to make the top ten list, it should contribute something unique to the werewolf tradition.
Yes, I definitely got the same vibe from the dog but that’s what added to the thrill for me. The dog was kind of a red herring. I shared that same feeling of foreboding and was certain it was going to turn out to be the werewolf leader or something. Right down to the very end, actually. There was a lot of web talk about a sequel but I think that project might be dead now. Maybe the dog would have played a role in that?
As for adding to the werewolf tradition and whether the movie deserves to rank on top ten lists, I’m not so sure either. I think it scores so well on many a blogger’s list because it’s kind of an homage to the horror genre. I mean, one of the characters is named Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead). The humour is pretty subtle and dark. Apparently it’s rife with so many movie references that only film nerds catch all of them on first viewing. Maybe it doesn’t add to the genre but it’s kind of a balls out example of the genre at its low-budget best, don’t you think?
I appreciated elements of the cinematography showing both the werewolf and human perspectives throughout. Also, despite the production value, those were some freaky ass werewolves. There’s something about elongated limbs that reminds me of aliens (which scare the bejesus out of me more than any supernatural creature because I can’t discount the possibility of their existence). The photographs in the credits were a nice touch, too.
Does it belong on a top ten list? I’m on the fence. I’ve watched it twice in one month already though and want to watch it again to see if I can catch any more of the references and in-jokes. I think it’s a movie that has great cult appeal.
You know – I think you’ve just convinced me to watch this again with an eye to catching these movie references.
All in all, I enjoyed this movie. Maybe not as much as I loved Cursed, but I can see why people like it so much.
My vote is 7 out of 10.
Maybe we’ll have to compare notes at a later date on the movie references. LOL! As far as I know, according to the DVD commentary (which I haven’t listened to yet) the references and subtle head nods in the film include: H.G. Wells along with movies The Evil Dead, Zulu, Aliens, The Matrix and Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.