A very British comedy horror which emerges from a soldier flick start into Night Of The Living Dead with werewolves. Quite wisely, Dog Soldiers doesn't take itself too seriously and it's quite happy to poke some good fun at both itself and it's characters. In fact, it quite often reminds me of a British situation comedy or perhaps a somehow interesting episode of one-time UK drama, Soldier Soldier. This low-budget-ish 16mm film was shot on a very tight schedule in Luxembourg with additional location footage being shot in Scotland. You've seen most of the horror elements before but the new setting and the British comedy dialogue helps to keep it fresh.
The big stars are Kevin McKidd of Trainspotting and The Acid House, and Sean Pertwee of Event Horizon and the loins of Doctor Who himself. Oh, and the Irish actor Liam Cunningham also stars as a terribly, terribly English bad apple. The remainder of the cast are unknowns. It's only the first 30 minutes that sets up the characters and their scenario of being stranded and then attacked by a very hairy enemy, so you won't find yourself waiting for too long a time before the film begins to deliver in the fantastical stakes.
Well, it might have written and directed by a Brit but once again, it had to be financed by Americans who felt the need to add some of their own suspect opinions, well intentioned as I'm sure they were (BTW I am not anti-American). Since the disc offers two commentary tracks, it's sometimes interesting to compare the director's perspective to what the US producers are stating on their own seperate commentary track. A good example is the pointless and unnecessary twist in this film surrounding a female character. That was the daft idea of one of the producers and absolutely nothing to do with the writer/director.
BTW Is it just me? Or does one of the American producers sound exactly like Kermit The Frog?! I kept waiting for him to break into a rendition of "It's not easy being green."
The disc's trailers and a segment near the start of the film are clever lampoons of the UK's Army recruitment advertising campaigns. In fact, I'm VERY impressed with the trailer campaign for this film, it's a real shame that only UK folks would pick up on the satire. Overseas residents also probably won't recognise the British in-jokes (like Pertwee shouting "I'm in the khazi!") or the numerous football gags. For example, that England versus Germany match (I remember it well!) or McKidd's "They think it's all over..." spiel taken from when England won the Football World Cup back in '66.
My only complaint with this film is that there isn't a great deal of replay value. I found it more entertaining when the soldiers were fighting in the woods than in the house they seek shelter in, but that familiar NOTLD scenario is oft to be seen in low budget-ish movies for obvious monetary reasons. This is definetly a recommended buy for werewolf fans but if you're looking for a modern-day British horror classic, then sorry people, 'cause this sure ain't the one. It's certainly good fun, especially upon your initial viewing, but it's still not a great horror movie and I have to say that I'm not too fond of the film's score. However you certainly have to cut it some slack when you consider both it's budgetary and timeline limitations.
I don't know how the US disc compares to the UK version but over here us region 2 folks have:
- 1,85:1 anamorphic print with 5.1 sound
- Two commentary tracks
- Making of (20 mins)
- Trailers and storyboard examples
- Deleted scenes and gag reel (9 mins) with optional commentary
- Neil Marshall's short film "Combat" (8 mins)
Liam Cunningham easily steals the excellent UK cast and crew commentary track, he's a really funny guy! And that short film by Marshall is rather impressive and worth checking out. All in all, this is a very nice package for an entertaining enough British comedy horror, and it'll certainly be interesting to see what the writer/director comes up with for his very next project. Dog Soldiers is a fun werewolf film and it's also cool to spot or hear all of the homages that Marshall somehow managed to include (NOTLD, Evil Dead, Jaws, Matrix, The Muppet Show, etc).