What happened? We were attacked by huge fuckin’ howlin’ things, that’s what.– Spoon
For Day 5 of the Fright Festival, I decided to revisit another old favourite, one I haven’t watched in a good few years – Neil Marshall’s 2002 directorial debut, Dog Soldiers. I’m glad to say that it holds up. If I had to put together a Top 5 list of werewolf films, this one would be right up there.
The strength of the film is in its characters. The squaddies, led by the redoubtable Sean Pertwee and Kevin McKidd, are a strong cast of personalities, with each one being distinct – though some, like Darren Morfitt’s Spoon, are more distinct than others. The werewolves are towering, bestial shapes, reminiscent of the creatures immortalized in Joe Dante’s 1981 film, The Howling.
The plot is simple, but with some nice twists and turns that keep it moving at a rollicking pace. It’s not a film I’m ever tempted to look away from, though I could probably recite a lot of the dialogue by heart. It’s just fantastically watchable for me, in the same way that a lot of the old Universal horror films are. I see something new every time.
I think that’s the secret to its success, really. It’s just a good film. It doesn’t aim to reinvent the wheel or try to do anything fancy with the concept. There are some soldiers, and some werewolves and they get into a knockdown, drag-out scrap. It’s just a good old fashioned monster movie, with a great location, some wonderful SFX, and a strong cast. I can’t say enough good things about it really. If you haven’t seen it, do. It’s exactly the sort of film folks should watch this time of year.