Given the dearth of werewolf films, almost all of them are worth seeking out for those of us who are fed up with vampires and zombies and masked slashers. So it’s an even bigger thrill than just finding a werewolf movie when you can find a werewolf movie that’s actually good.

Neil Marshall’s debut film uses the tried and true “monster picks off group one by one” formula to good effect here, mixing it with the slightly less common “soldiers fight unearthly enemy” trope. You also get a strong dose of the “spam in a cabin” theme, as the soldiers choose to hide from the beasts stalking them in what, in hindsight, was a really poor choice, strategy-wise. And it’s this mixing of familiar plots that makes the film work as well as it does. Horror does very well when it’s a synthesis of what has come before, especially when that synthesis is mixed with a new idea or a new approach. True, Marshall is probably leaning more towards reworking what other people have done before, but he still gives the whole enterprise the feel of something new and fresh, so that the end result doesn’t feel like you’re just watching Alien with werewolves in a farm house.

Marshall’s script does a quick job of establishing baseline personalities for the characters, which honestly is all that’s needed, because as the nature of these things go, there’s no point in becoming too attached to anyone. That the cast is good helps make these simplistic characterizations more palatable, particularly Sean Pertwee and Liam Cunningham, who both make two potentially cliche-prone characters feel more rounded. The plot is fairly basic as well, moving briskly from point to point, establishing the threat before hunkering down in the final half for the cabin-based attrition to come. What Marshall doesn’t avoid, however, is a strong work-around for a couple of rather predictable and over fore-shadowed heel turns that make the dwindling of the cast feel even more rote than is neccessary.

One Response to “Spooky Month Review: Dog Soldiers”
  1. Earl Allison says:

    One of my absolute favorite werewolf movies — along with Ginger Snaps, the Howling and the Lon Chaney Jr movie The Wolf Man.

    Rarely a dull moment in Dog Soldiers, and the humor, while black, is pretty funny in a lot of cases.

    Thanks for mentioning this one :)

    Take it and run,

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