Dog Soldiers

Neil Marshall (The Descent) marked his territory with this 2002 tail of soldiers lured into the woods by a pack of werewolves. Let’s call it The Dog-Scent.

Shaving Private Ryan

Maybe more so than its gender-swapped successor, Dog Soldiers delivers mongrel action-horror to feed gorehounds and gundogs alike. It moves from Predator jungle carnage to The Thing paranoia as our underdog heroes (led by Sean Pertwee and Kevin McKidd) are penned into an isolated house by canine forces. But these are not John McTiernan’s all-American macho commandos, but lifelike UK squaddies mostly concerned about missing the England vs Germany match. It is a horror film so British that the blood and guts effects are made from ketchup and sausages.

Lara Cruft

Like Predator it builds suspense by keeping the creatures hidden while showing their black-and-white POV, emphasising the chromatic irony alongside the sly militaristic score. Marshall takes time to establish the characters and their relationships, trading sharp-tongued dialogue and references to Zulu and The Matrix, so by the time they reach the cabin for the Night of the Lupine Dead showdown we think of the men as more than simply dog food. Care is also given to the grainy, An American Werewolf in London-inspired cinematography, still looking the mutt’s nuts after 20 years.

The grit and wit make up for the plot tailing off slightly, maintaining the hair-raising humour and off-the-leash bloodshed lycan unholy combination of Ginger Snaps and Evil Dead. From the shaggy dog opening to the Straw Dogs climax, this is among the best in its category, and the start of what could have been the ultimate British horror trilogy had Marshall not made such a dog’s dinner of Doomsday.


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