Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Now Playing: Dog Soldiers

My dear friend Guy was gracious enough to buy this for me around my birthday a year or two ago and only recently did I take it off the shelf and check it out. For that my friend, I sincerely apologize for being late to the party because this is absolutely one of the best action/horror flicks I've seen in years. The banner headline on the cover art isn't far from the truth with the genre masterpieces it references because Dog Soldiers liberally cribs from all of them. What stunned me was how effectively it pulled from those admittedly better films.

When AvP was gearing up there was an interview with Paul "Weak Sauce" Anderson where he talked about how devoted a fan of both Aliens and the original Predator he was and how he'd studied them in depth. His intent, at least in the interview, was to take the best of what worked there and let the two beasts rumble. The result, as we all know, was a disaster. I pull this reference out of thin air because writer-director Neil Marshall must have done the same exact thing with the difference being he knew what the hell he was doing.

The result is an extremely gory, scary, and hilarious thriller set in the Scottish highlands. A team of SAS soldiers is on a training exercise when they find the other team they were meant to rendevous with utterly slaughtered save one. The survivor is pretty much missing his chest and before they can figure out what's going on they get ambushed by something very large and very unseen. During their escape they run into a woman driving past who picks all of them up and takes them to a farm house in the middle of no where. Naturally, their enemy is right on their tail and the result is an Alamo-style stand-off with automatic weapons and werewolves.

To Marshall's credit, he doesn't screw around with needless amounts of setup and he certainly knows how to ratchet up the tension along with the body count. He also spares no expense with the full-body animatronic suits for the werewolves which, much like the Aliens, were shot perfectly. You always see just enough to let your imagination fill in the blanks, except when it comes to the carnage they wreck. If this film is any indication, his next movie The Descent should be absolutely terrifying not to mention extremely graphic in terms of violence.

Which basically means Dog Soldiers resolutely kicks ass and takes names.

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