review by KJ Doughton, 18 October 2002
19th Olympia Film Festival
Dog Soldiers shares the meat
‘n blood aesthetic of a beef packing plant, boasting a guts ‘n glop
count on par with the oozing intestinal wreckage featured in Dawn
of the Dead. Having invested most of its special effects budget
on sausage factory scraps, Dog Soldiers will turn you off
anything Oscar Meyer.
lean, no-bullsh*t story line and shrewd sense of humor give it the
same surreal, furious sense of fun that infected Dead Alive,
Re-Animator and Evil Dead. In fact, a key character’s
name is Bruce Campbell, in homage to the Evil Dead series’
stoic lead man. Dog Soldiers is the perfect Halloween movie.
The plot is
straight from a kick-ass video game. British Soldiers training in
the woodsy, emerald Scottish Highlands find themselves stumbling
into a campsite where inhabitants have been seemingly pureed in a
giant blender, their liquid remains fertilizing the countryside.
The military men
wade deeper in grue following the discovery of a Special Forces
commander whose squad has been picked off by particularly
unstoppable foes – werewolves the size of minivans.
The UK faces
inhabiting Dog Soldiers are mostly unfamiliar, although
Transpotting’s Kevin McKidd is along for the ride as Cooper, one
of the squad’s terrorized militiamen. As McKidd and his fellow
soldiers face off with their furry-faced tormentors (the lycanthrope
makeup appears directly inspired by Joe Dante’s The Howling),
they bring to mind the cynical, blue-collar space marines from James
however, Dog Soldiers reveals its true trump card to be a
relentlessly staged series of chase scenes – for this viewer’s
money, some of the very best ever filmed. As man battles beast from
rooftops, automobiles, and rural, tree-lined expanses of rugged
wilderness, it’s a heady rush of pure cinematic adrenaline.
Meanwhile, the film’s heroes are mauled and mutilated, only to morph
into additional werewolves and spread more gory havoc.
is a balls-out pop cinema masterpiece, a patchwork of set pieces
that pays homage to the best moments from horror history. The film
might look familiar, with viewers bound to spend time identifying
which past classics inspired which scenes. A smidgen of Wolfen
here, a touch of Predator there.
Perhaps. But in stealing from the best, Dog Soldiers is the
most exciting assault on the senses to rip out our throats all year.
Stock up on silver bullets for director Neil Marshall’s intense
freight train of a film.