‘Dog Soldiers’ – full moon freakout on Hulu

Neil Marshall ransacks and revitalizes every cliché in the book in Dog Soldiers (2002), a howling good reworking of the werewolf tale. Set in the deep misty forests of the Scottish Highlands, this full moon boogie pits wolf pack against platoon and watches the fur fly.

Cooper (Kevin McKidd) is a right bloke who winds up on the wrong side of Special Forces Captain Ryan (Liam Cunningham), a ruthless sort who apparently puts a black mark beside any soldier who stands up to his arbitrary demands. So Cooper winds up trudging through the underbrush with a platoon of working class grunts under the command of the respected Sergeant Wells (Sean Pertwee), engaged in a “military exercise” with Ryan’s forces. “If we engage the enemy, I expect nothing less than gratuitous violence from the lot of you,” Wells jokes to his men.

Someone, or something, beats them to it: enemy base camp is deserted but for spots of blood, bits of human organs and offal, and Ryan: wounded, in shock, and mumbling “There was only supposed to be one…” Their retreat is only marginally more successful and before you can say “Lucky you came along on this lonely dirt road in the nick of time,” they hitch a ride and hole up in the only house for miles around.

Where so many horror movies coast on such coincidences, Marshall works them into the conspiratorial premise of the piece and dangles clues for observant viewers between the blasts of black humor, bloody horror, and action heroics. His muscular attack and display of men-under-fire sacrifice is reminiscent of James Cameron (Aliens is a touchstone here), while the shards of cold illumination that backlight the swirling fog, catch the faces of combatants, and silhouette the towering beasts (apparently the full moon had some help) recall Ridley Scott. Give credit to Marshall for borrowing from the best.

Dog Soldiers doesn’t transcend genre, it embraces it, energizes it, and takes big bloody chomp out of it.

Marshall has since become busier as a director of high-end TV spectacle (he helmed the two of the most muscular episodes of Game of Thrones) than as a filmmaker, but he was the most promising genre director of the 2000s, as this film and his more assured follow-up, the 21st century adventure horror masterpiece The Descent, affirm.

Emma Cleasby costars.

Rated R

Streams for a limited time on Hulu

Also on Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay, Vudu and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
Dog Soldiers [Blu-ray]
Dog Soldiers [4K UHD + Blu-ray]
Dog Soldiers [DVD]

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On Blu-ray and DVD, with a special edition Blu-ray that includes director commentary, an hour-long documentary, and Marshall’s debut short film “Combat.” The 4K UHD + Blu-ray collector’s edition includes additional commentary tracks and bonus interviews,


Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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