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Friday, March 19, 2010

The MARCH of Death, Day 18: 'Dog Soldiers'



I will be the first to admit that I am not a werewolf fanatic. There are genre fans obsessed with vampire films, zombie films, Frankenstein adaptations and the like. I however, do not gravitate toward any one creature or monstrous incarnation. With that being said, when a werewolf movie is done well, I’m all in. Jack Nicholson’s Wolf, American Werewolf in London, The Howling, and yes: Dog Soldiers. Neil Marshall’s 2002 directorial debut, the precursor to The Descent and Doomsday, is a quite impressive first go at genre filmmaking. Let me rephrase that. Neil Marshall’s genre film directorial debut is a high octane, obscenely imaginative, viscerally realized kick in the balls. The film grabs hold of the scruff of the viewers neck and shakes the piss out of you over the course of a brilliantly brisk 105 minutes. Deep in The Scottish woodlands a group of elite soldiers are undergoing what should be routine military exercises. However, as brutally maimed bodies begin to turn up, the soldiers realize they are being stalked by a force not all together human. Fortunately for our boys in fatigues, a young women comes to their rescue and holes them up in her nearby farmhouse. Seems what is nipping at our group’s heels is not all together foreign to her, and as she explains; comes standard with living in the neighborhood. As the narrative plays out, our principles finally accept that they are being unrelentingly hunted by a pack of lycanthropes. What Dog Soldiers lacks in budget it wholeheartedly makes up for in: direction, atmosphere, acting, and creature design. One of the things I most respect about this film is that you never see a transformation scene. That may sound a bit odd, but let me explain. Do I want to look at a shitty human to werewolf metamorphosis because the director doesn’t have the money to pull it off? Or do I want a film slathered so thick with dread and terror that I don’t even realize I haven’t seen a transformation? Question answered. Dog Soldiers does what few creature features succeed at: it takes the werewolf sub-genre, flips it on it’s head, splits it right down the middle, and feasts on it’s innards.

Dog Soldiers
2002
Director: Neil Marshall
Starring: Sean Pertwee and Leslie Simpson

9/10 Farmhouses ~ Chris Conduit

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