Dog Soldiers (2002)
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Review Date: November 01, 2002
Director: Neil Marshall
Writer: Neil Marshall
Producers: David Allen, Christopher Figg, Tom Reeve
Sean Pertwee
Kevin McKidd
Emma Cleasby
A team of English soldiers are dropped in the middle of a forest for a routine training exercise, but soon find themselves scampering away from an apparent werewolf pack roaming the Irish countryside. Blood, guts and lotsa gun-powder ensues!
A decent Scottish version of PREDATOR with werewolves, this movie isn't afraid to spread the blood and guts, with a pretty basic storyline featuring hardasses with guns, a couple of twists and one of the funner endings that I've seen in some time. I was actually starting to get a little bored near the end of this film (it runs about 15 minutes too long), but thankfully I stuck around and was rewarded with an all-out man vs wolf bloody battle to the death, with one specific fight featuring a bare-knuckled soldier going mano-a-mano vs a 8-foot beast that was simply...a hoot. The last section also featured one of the funnier lines from the film (which is pretty serious, most of the time), as one of the soldiers, who is about to be turned into lunch-meat, looks at the wolf who's about to chow down on his sorry ass and says: "I hope I give you the shits, you fuckin' wimp!" Touche, my Scottish mate...touché! I do wish that more of the film was that exciting though. The first 20 minutes are a little slow, and every now and again, after a cool back and forth with the beasts from hell, things linger a bit. The directing did help matters though, especially in terms of the actual werewolves, who are never shown for more than 2 seconds at a time. I think that was done on purpose because the animals themselves didn't look all that convincing when showcased for too long. Featuring them in quick clips was the better way to go. The film also "felt" like an independent film every now and again, with questionable camera choices and very little movement in location other than one kickass looking forest and one house (although the nods to Raimi were a nice touch).

There were also a couple of small plot points which really bothered me, one of which was the presence of a man whose guts were literally spilling out of his stomach, but who somehow, kept shuffling along with the others (now I'm no doctor but...huh??). There was also a prisoner of sorts who just kept mouthing off at the pack of cadets, but instead of gagging the a-hole or bitch-slapping him back to his mother, all they did was get more and more upset at the guy. Dudes...ever heard of a muzzle...shut the prick up! There were two men characters who did eventually stick out though, including lead Sergeant Wells, who delivered an inspirational speech to his second-in-command nearing the end of the film, and his right-hand man, Cooper, who actually developed some sort of dimension. The rest of the gun-totters weren't as lucky and relegated to generic cutouts on the whole. The film did include a number of disgusting sequences though, one of which featured a soldier getting his head chomped into by a beast, ripped off and then thrown over to his buddy. Gross stuff. Overall, the movie did play pretty creepily, but some of the "funny bits" made no sense within the context of certain scenes. In one of the film's more serious shoot-out sequences, in which the wolves are attempting to hack their way into the house, the director kept panning back to a shot of the dog pulling at a wounded soldier's guts. It's supposed to be funny, but it didn't click under those circumstances. I'm not sure if they were going for that AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON vibe (horror/humor), but if so, they certainly didn't maintain it, because the film was mostly very serious. I don't know...maybe if I watch it drunk another time, and don't take it all so seriously, I might enjoy it more. If you like blood, guts and crazy beasts stalking men with guns though...you will likely enjoy this monster...just don't expect any major nail-biting suspense.

** The following might spoil a part of the movie for some, so don't read it if you don't want anything ruined for you. I just thought it was particularly funny and felt the need to mention it. During the end credits, there is a final shot of a newspaper headline that is simply priceless. A small headline on the front page corner of the newspaper reads "Werewolves ate my platoon" while the greater headline at the top of the page reads: "England: 5 Germany: 1", the score of the soccer game. Hilarious! End of spoilers **
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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