Dog Soldiers Review

Dog Soldiers is already making waves amongst the British film critics, who hail it as the first decent British horror flick in ages. It's the type of British film that seems destined to spawn many inferior imitations, in the same vein as Guy Ritchie's Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels influenced a new generation of mediocre gangster films.

In the film's prologue, Rifleman Lawrence Cooper (Kevin McKidd) fails his Special Ops test on the grounds of his refusal to shoot an innocent dog whilst ordered by his Captain Richard Ryan (Liam Cunningham). Flash forward four weeks, and the film is set in the Scottish wilderness. The main plot of Dog Soldiers tells of six soldiers practising training manoeuvres. One of the soldiers is Cooper, forced to deal with his failure at becoming a member of special ops. Lead by the charismatic Sergeant Harry Wells (Sean Pertwee), the soldiers are intrigued by a dead cow that falls from a nearby hill and lands on their camp; the cow has been savagely mauled to death. Searching for clues as to how the cow suffered its horrible fate, the group are lead to Cooper's former adversary Captain Ryan, who appears to be the only survivor from a vicious attack. Stuck in the middle of nowhere and unable to fix a radio signal to base, the soldiers' true combat skills are tested when they realise they are stuck in a lycanthropic hellhole in which humanoid werewolves are hungry for their flesh.

Considering the film is British and lacking a proper Hollywood budget, kudos should already go to writer/director Neil Marshall for attempting an ambitious yet very slick horror film set entirely on British soil. There used to be a thriving British horror film market in the sixties and seventies, and yet nowadays the island seems content to solely churn out rom-coms and gangster films.

Although the film is very enjoyable and often deeply hilarious (particularly the scene involving one of the soldier's insides needing to be tucked back in), Dog Soldiers rips off too many other more superior efforts whilst thinking it is merely paying homage to them. There are large plot traces of An American Werewolf In London, Lock Stock, The Evil Dead, Alien, The Blair Witch Project, Assault On Precinct 13 and even Zulu, and unfortunately Dog Soldiers finds itself holding up the rear in this quality field. Yes, one of the soldiers is named Bruce Campbell in homage to our Evil Dead hero, but Dog Soldiers provides no new spins on any of the comedy/horror conventions.

The acting lead by Sean Pertwee and Kevin McKidd is very impressive, and McKidd (Tommy MacKenzie in Trainspotting) in particular is proving to be a bizarre and yet inspired choice as a hard-man lead. Neil Marshall directs with a decent quality of flair for his first feature, although his scripted dialogue is too catch-phrase-Lock Stock-esque in its approach. Essentially, Dog Soldiers will impress you because of its origins, but will leave nothing in your lasting memory that will stand it above any of its competitors. It's an enjoyable British horror film that hopefully should herald a wave of more gutsy British filmmaking, but it certainly isn't a classic.



out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 17:54:41

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