Dog Soldiers (2002)

dog soldiers poster 2002 movie werewolves
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Nice werewolf designs, good concept

Confusing editing, underdeveloped story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Dog Soldiers

Studio:  Pathe

Genre(s):  Horror/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  March 22, 2002 (Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Films)/May 10, 2002 (UK)

MPAA Rating:  R

dog soldiers werewolves

Hey bros…we’re party animals!

A military team led by Sergeant Harry G. Wells (Sean Pertwee) is assigned to training exercises in the forests of the Scottish Highlands.  When they discover that they aren’t just being hunted by a Special Air Forces team, they enter a world of horror and survival.  There are werewolves in the woods and they are hungry.  With the help of researcher named Megan (Emma Cleasby), Wells and his men find themselves trapped at a remote cottage with the leader of the Special Foces named Ryan (Liam Cunningham) and surrounded by wolves…it is a hunt the wolves wanted, and it is a hunt they get.

Directed by Neil Marshall, Dog Soldiers is an action-horror film.  The movie premiered at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Films and aired on the Sci-Fi channel when it premiered in the United States.  The film was met with mixed to positive reviews and gained a cult following over the years.

dog soldiers werewolf transformation

Listed under “least surprising twist”

I saw Marshall’s The Descent and liked it and sought out Dog Soldiers.  Werewolves, the military, and horror-action can be a lot of fun (see something like Aliens or Predator for an example).  Dog Soldiers does a lot to get there, but it becomes muddled as the film goes on.

The movie takes too long to get going (which is ironic since it starts out with a killing).  The movie then falls into a lull once the soldiers become trapped at the farm house.  The wolves mill around outside and occasionally attack and the soldiers debate their next move inside (and occasionally attack).  It gets down to a rather ridiculous fight involving werewolf punching and lots of explosions…it doesn’t entirely feel satisfying.

The core cast of Sean Pertwee, Liam Cunningham, Emma Cleasby, and Kevin McKidd (Cooper) is decent, but the rest of the cast is literally expendable and interchangeable.  You know they aren’t going to live, and the “planning” for survival seems pretty weak from a group who is meant to “survive”.  I feel that even after they understand they are being hunted by wolves, the scripted planning and actions don’t fit the characters.

dog soldiers werewolves attack

Dudes…you’re trashing your own house

The visuals are also a mix.  The wolves are creepy, tall, and lanky and have a resemblance to the wolves of The Howling.  The film is dark and since it is an action film, you need to see and understand the framing and choreography of the fights, and this isn’t always possible in the movie.  You can tell they have the right idea on how to build the horror, but it doesn’t necessary work.

Dog Soldiers is a bit of disappointment in that I feel that the movie had a lot of potential.  As much as a bunch of really identifiable characters might be a cliché in this type of movie, I think it would have helped distinguish some of the men as the killing starts.  I don’t feel you have anyone to root for except Cooper and Wells, but Wells is already wounded by a werewolf…so he’s doomed.  I just wish Dog Soldiers had been slightly tweaked to get the movie I wanted, and even initial plans for a sequel might have succeeded in solidifying the ideas and story.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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