31 Days of Terror: Dog Soldiers
31 Days of Terror will cover a wide array of horror films leading up to Halloween. We'll be posting our thoughts and feelings on some of our favorites every day for the next 31 days. If your favorite doesn't make it, it doesn't mean we don't like it, so speak up in the comments below!
It's hard not to summarize a film by comparing it to another, more popular one but come on, it's right there on the goddamn box: "Jaws, Aliens, and Predator with a werewolf twist." How am I supposed to beat that comparisont? It's exactly what Dog Soldiers is and it exceeds those expectations.
When a military exercise in Scotland goes awry and the enemy deviates from a trained special forces unit to werewolves, an army unit must ban together in a small farmhome to beat back the dogs at their heels and survive until dawn.
In his first feature length debut, writer/director Neil Marshall (The Descent) knocks it out of the park with frightful visuals, snarky dialogue, and great effects. There are so many scenes that are homages to Alien and Predator it's hard to count. Whether it be the group chemistry, every character getting a memorable quote, the final scene of a soldier in a fist fight with a werewolf, or the camera centering on a dog as a character is killed, this film's got it all. It also plays around with the lycanthrope mythology and adds some clever twists to the plot. The acting is great all around with Sean Pertwee and Kevin McKidd leading the pack and they have some of the best lines of the movie.
If you thought you'd never see a movie where a man gets his intestines ripped out, have them chewed on by the family dog, and then put back into his body using superglue, then Dog Soldiers is the film for you. Death weighs heavily in this film but there's also a lot of humor to some of the dire situations and it manages to keep that tone throughout. Most of the body count has a witty retort to their executioner and it makes for some enjoyable scenes where you're laughing with dismay.
The cinematography is all over the place, ranging from beautiful landscape shots to ridiculous dutch angles but this is one film I'd defend the use of dutch angles as they add to the dark humorous tone. The lighting is exemplary as well with great shots of the werewolves silhouetted by the full moon's light.
I also really like the werewolf designs as well. They stand out due to their taller and more muscle-toned physique, much like the Predator. The more wolf-like face is what I dig most and also how the hair stops at the mane while the rest of the body is nearly hairless. All of the werewolves are practical so thankfully you won't see any noticeable CGI here.
The music is probably my only gripe because sometimes there will be complete silence on screen and suddenly chase music just explodes out of nowhere and sounds more overbearing than it should be.
Dog Soldiers is one of my favorite werewolf movies and though it shamelessly borrows from some of my favorite films, it only makes it that much better.