Film - Dog Soldiers

Dog Soldiers

Steve Taylor-Bryant checks for a full moon and watches Dog Soldiers...

"We are now up against live, hostile targets. So, if Little Red Riding Hood should show up with a bazooka and a bad attitude, I expect you to chin the bitch."

I love Gotham. It's the right mix of comic origin stories, detective tales and utter lunacy. One of the many standout performances of the first two seasons is Sean Pertwee's portrayal of Alfred. I've talked a lot here at home about Mr. Pertwee recently. The wife is binge watching Gotham from the very beginning with me ahead of season 3 later this month and my teenage boys are rooting through my old Doctor Who DVDs and have just discovered Sean's father, Jon, as the third incarnation of the titular hero. My favourite on screen memory of Sean Pertwee though is from 2002 and is "a bitch of a werewolf movie"

Neil Marshall's British horror flick Dog Soldiers was just stunning. I'm not a huge horror fan, I like to be scared but everything in a flooded market just seems to similar, so I want something a bit different if I'm going to sit through two hours of so-called horror. What Marshall brought to the screen was just that. For those who haven't seen Dog Soldiers, firstly - what's wrong with you, the basic premise is this...

A squad of British soldiers is sent on exercise in the Highlands of Scotland where they will be up against the army's elite Special Operations Squad. Whilst in the woods on their mission they learn the scary campfire stories of the area but laugh them off as childish until they stumble on the bloody remains of their compatriots from SOS and hear the howling from the stories. They try and make a run for it with two wounded colleagues and find Megan, a zoologist, who knows exactly what it is that is preying on them. Their routine military exercise becomes a battle for their own survival as they fight an enemy no one has seen before - a werewolf.

Dog Soldiers worked for the same reason Cabin in the Woods did. Different, casting, humour. Whilst Dog Soldiers didn't have the expansive budget of CitW so the practical effects rather than CGI can be a little dated the writing and casting was top drawer. Neil Marshall, who directed as well as penning the script, took a tired and badly used horror trope and added a British stiff upper lip level of humour and injected some real fairytale storytelling to compliment the comedy. Backed by a cast including Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby and Liam Cunningham the story, violence and almost accidental comedy at times is a thrill ride that meant I didn't sit still at any point. You didn't know who would go next, whether anyone would survive, and couldn't second guess any outcome which is incredibly rare in any film let alone a horror. But it's the dialogue that has left a lasting mark on me. This isn't a horror film with screaming teens running upstairs instead of out of the house, this is a group of soldiers and written like that.

"Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I mean, think about it. We bust into their house, we eat all their porridge, we sleep in their fucking beds. No wonder they're pissed."

There is bravado, there is a never say die attitude and there is the kind of banter you only hear in the armed forces. The best lines and my performance of film go to the aforementioned Sean Pertwee as Sgt. Harry G. Wells. Pertwee has an impatience about him in Dog Soldiers. He is on a mission and his men dying is an inconvenience and playing him as the man who just wants to get the job done leads to a special performance. Pertwee as Alfred in Gotham is very good but in Dog Soldiers he shows an acting ability that deserves more recognition.

" I am not breaking radio silence just cos' you lot got spooked by a dead flying fucking cow."

Image - IMDb